Kathakali is a highly stylized classical Indian dance-drama noted for the attractive make-up of characters, elaborate costumes, detailed gestures and well-defined body movements presented in tune with the anchor playback music and complementary percussion.
It originated in the country’s present day state of Kerala during the 17th century and has developed over the years with improved looks, refined gestures and added themes besides more ornate singing and precise drumming.
Kathakali is considered to be a combination of five elements of fine art:
1.Expressions (Natyam, the component with emphasis on facial expressions).
2.Dance (Nritham, the component of dance with emphasis on rhythm and movement of hands, legs and body).
3.Enactment (Nrithyam, the element of drama with emphasis on “mudras”, which are hand gestures).
4.Song/vocal accompaniment (Geetha).
5.Instrument accompaniment (Vadyam).
Traditionally there are 101 classical Kathakali stories, though the commonly staged among them these days total less than one-third that number. Almost all of them were initially composed to last a whole night. Nowadays, there is increasing popularity for concise, or oftener selected versions of stories so as the performance lasts not more than three to four hours from evening. Thus, many stories find stage presentation in parts rather than totality.