Kerala Performing Arts


MohiniyatamMohiniyattam is a typical dance form of Kerala which has had a chequered history. Literally it means ‘the dance of the enchantress’. In Mohiniyattam it is the `lasya’ element that is dominant. The origin of Mohiniyattam is traced to the Dasiyattam developed by the Devadasis, in Kerala temples in the past. Swati Tirunal who was a generous patron of all fine arts extended his patronage to Mohiniyattam as well. In spite of the encouragement given by Swati Tirunal, Mohiniyattam did not win much respectability as an art form. It was left to Malayalam poet Vallathol to extend his patronage to this art by including it in the syllabus of the Kerala Kalamandalam. The exponents of this art form at Kalamandalam include Chinnammu Amma and Kalyanikutti Amma and they evolved a typical Kalamandalam style for staging Mohiniyattam, even the costumes and the make up having a distinctiveness of their own. In fact, Mohiniyattam as a dance form has been developed in Kalamandalam to such perfection as to attract the attention of students and teachers of art from other parts of India and even abroad.

Ottam Thullal

Ottam ThullalOttam Thullal is a typical solo-dance in which the humorous element from Kuthu and the musical element from Kathakali are combined. In Ottam Thullal a single actor wears colourful costume as in Kathakali and recites Thullal or dance songs to the accompaniment of acting and dancing. According to popular traditions Ottam Thullal was evolved by Kunjan Nambiar as an alternative to Chakiarkuthu. Nambiar developed Ottam Thullal into the most popular folk art, presented in Kerala temples. In Ottam Thullal also the symbols and gestures used in Kathakali find a place. A single actor plays many parts, the acting being accompanied by his own singing unlike in Kathakali. Neverthless, in Ottam Thullal a musician stands behind and gives the lead to the actor, another plays on the `maddalam’ or elongated drum and a third keeps the rhythm with a pair of cymbals. The popularity of Ottam Thullal as a dance form has continued undiminished to this day.

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