23 Facts About Kathakali


Kathakali is a major form of classical Indian dance.

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Traditional themes of the Kathakali are folk stories, religious legends and spiritual ideas from the Hindu epics and the Puranas.

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In modern compositions, Indian Kathakali troupes have included women artistes, and adapted Western stories and plays such as those by Shakespeare.

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Term Kathakali is derived from katha which means "story or a conversation, or a traditional tale", and kali which means "performance" or "play".

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Elements and aspects of Kathakali are taken from ancient Sanskrit texts such as the Natya Shastra.

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Kathakali emerged as a distinct genre of performance art during the 16th and 17th centuries in Kerala.

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Kathakali expanded the performance repertoire, style and standardized the costume making it easier for the audience to understand the various performances and new plays.

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Kathakali is structured around plays called Attakatha, written in Sanskritized Malayalam.

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Kathakali repertoire is an operatic performance where an ancient story is playfully dramatized.

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Traditionally, a Kathakali performance is long, starting at dusk and continuing through dawn, with interludes and breaks for the performers and audience.

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All classical Indian dances, Kathakali has the most elaborate costuming consisting of head dresses, face masks and vividly painted faces.

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Costumes have made Kathakali's popularity extend beyond adults, with children absorbed by the colors, makeup, light and sound of the performance.

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The interplay of these gunas defines the character of someone or something, and the costumes and face colouring in Kathakali often combines the various colour codes to give complexity and depth to the actor-dancers.

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Kathakali follows the Hastha Lakshanadeepika most closely, unlike other classical dances of India.

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Over five hundred Kathakali plays exist, most of which were written before the 20th century.

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Kathakali is still practiced in its Traditional ways and there are experimental plays based on European classics and Shakespeare's plays.

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Kathakali has lineages or distinctive schools of play interpretation and dance performance called Sampradayam.

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Kathakali has traditionally been an art that has continued from one generation to the next through a guru-disciples based training system.

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Kathakali schools are now found all over India, as well as in parts of Western Europe and the United States.

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Kathakali is still hugely male-dominated, but since the 1970s, women have made entry into the art form on a recognisable scale.

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Theory and foundations of Kathakali are same as other major classical Indian dances, traceable to Sanskrit texts such as the Natya Shastra, but the expression style in each is very different and distinctive.

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Kathakali is different from a similar-sounding Kathak, though both are Indian classical dance traditions of "story play" wherein the stories have been traditionally derived from the Hindu epics and the Puranas.

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Kathak traditionally has included female actor-dancers, unlike Kathakali which has traditionally been performed by an all-male troupe.

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