Indian Arts

A little bit Indian Arts




The traditional costume worn in Mohiniyattam is white with a gold border, and gold ornaments are worn. The unique coiffure with hair gathered on the left side of the head reflect it's aesthetic appeal, making it distinct from the other dance forms of India. The regional system of music that Mohiniyattam follows is the SOPANA style which in it's lyricism is evocative of the spiritual element.It was during the reign of the great Poet King, Maharaja Swati Tirunal that Mohiniyattam received considerable patronage. After his untimely demise, adverse circumstances led to the decline of this dance form till when in the 1930's Mahakavi Vallathol founded the Kerala Kalamandalam and once again revived the dance form.



Bharata Natyam is one of the oldest dance forms of India. It was nurtured in the temples and courts of southern India since ancient times. Later it was codified and documented as a performing art in the 19th century by four brothers known as the Tanjore Quartet whose musical compositions for dance form the bulk of the Bharata Natyam repertoire even today. The art was handed down as a living tradition from generation to generation under the Devadasi system under which women were dedicated to temples to serve the deity as dancers and musicians forming part of the elaborate rituals. These highly talented artists and the male gurus (nattuvanars) were the sole repository of the art until the early 20th century when a renewal of interest in India's cultural heritage prompted the educated elite to discover its beauty. Today Bharata Natyam is one of the most popular and widely performed dance styles and is practiced by male and female dancers all over India. Due to its wide range of movements and postures and the balanced mélange of the rhythmic and mimetic aspects lends itself well to experimental and fusion choreography. Degree and Post Graduate courses covering the practice and theory of Bharata Natyam as well as the languages associated with its development are available at major universities of India.



Dance form Kuchipudi developed in what is now known as the state of Andhra Pradesh in southern India. Kuchipudi derives its name from the village Kuchelapuram, where it was nurtured by great scholars and artists who built up the repertoire and refined the dance technique. The technique of Kuchipudi makes use of fast rhythmic footwork and sculpture body movements. Stylized mime, using hand gestures and subtle facial expression, is combined with more realistic acting, occasionally including dialogues spoken by the dancers. In this blend of performance techniques, Kuchipudi is unique among the Indian classical dance styles. Kuchipudi today is performed either as a solo or a group presentation, but historically it was performed as a dance drama, with several dancers taking different roles. The themes are mostly derived form the scriptures and mythology, and the portrayal of certain characters is a central motif of this dance form. Kuchipudi is accompanied by Carnatic music. A typical orchestra for a Kuchipudi recital includes the mridangam, flute and violin. A vocalist sings the lyrics, and the nattuvanar conducts the orchestra and recites the rhythmic patterns.



In terms of international theatrical history, Kutiyattam, the Sanskrit theatre if Kerala, can perhaps well claim the greatest antiquity. Kutiyattam is a form of theatre that originated in an ancient past, dating back to about two millennia.One of the most remarkable traditions of world theatre, it draws on the on the plays of the eminent Sanskrit dramatists of India. In recent times, Kutiyattam has gained the attention of theatre people and scholars from all over the world. Recently, Kutiyattam has been declared as among the "Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity" by UNESCO. It is for the first time in the history of UNESCO that select art forms across the world have been given this recognition as part its effort to safeguard expressions of oral heritage and traditional culture which are in danger of disappearing due to the effects of globalisation. While the performing tradition of Sanskrit plays have ceased to exist elsewhere in India, the continuation of an unbroken tradition of theatre surviving in Kerala, the southernmost tip of India is historically interesting. While there is a rich corpus of plays composed in Sanskrit written by dramatists like Asvaghosha, Bhasa, Sudraka, Kalidasa, Harsha, Bodhayana, Mahendravikramavarman and several others which have come down to us, there are no exact evidence or details regarding the staging of Sanskrit plays during the times they were written, except those reconstructed from history, references available from the Sanskrit plays themselves and from texts like Bharata's Natya Sastra. The performance practice of Kutiyattam, though it broadly follows the abstract rules of aesthetics described in the Natya Sastra, has its own distinctive characteristics in terms of theatric conventions and method of acting. In the olden days, Kutiyattam was not accessible to anyone except people from the brahmin and other similar 'higher' castes, and until recently, it was restricted to the temple as sacred art. Another reason for the restrictive appeal of Kutiyattam is the highly complicated, long-drawn out acting method and theatric grammar which conveyed meaning only to the select few who are conversant with its codes and conventions. The differences of Kutiyattam from the practice described in the Natya Sastra are so marked that scholars tend to explain it away as an anomaly, at best as a regional adaptation/variation. What then are these special characteristics of this theatre form? Kutiyattam is a performed by a community of male actors called Chakyars and female performers called Nangiars, assisted by drummers called Nambiars, in theatre houses called Kuttampalams. Kutiyattam is an inclusive term that refers to more than one art form--apart from Kutiyattam, the mode of theatre in which the Chakyars and the Nangiars take part together, it also integrates Nangiarkoothu, the theatre exclusively performed by the Nangiars, and Prabandha koothu (or merely Chakyar koothu, as it is otherwise known), the verbal narrative drama of the Chakyars. The prefix "kuti" in Malayalam language primarily means "combined" or "together", and "attam" means "acting": therefore, the word "kutiyattam" means "combined acting." Simply put, it is a theatre in which several characters come together on the stage. Apart from this primary meaning, perhaps there are several other layers of meaning embedded in the term "kuti". It is a combination of elements drawn from the local Dravidian and the pan-Indian performance traditions. It integrates the histrionic aspect of the elaborate acting of the hero and the other main characters based on classical Sanskrit and the verbal narration of the Vidushaka, the comic character, in the regional language of Malayalam.



Kerala Natanam can be called a stylised form of Kathakali. Guru Gopinath developed his own style that was appealing to the masses who were then devoid of art and dance, without compromising on the classical background. He never tried to reform Kathakali and to tamper with the originality and purity it possessed.He was instrumental to bring Kathakali out from the courtyards of upper class Brahmins and rajas and dance chambers of temples to the masses. His performances created a dance wave in Kerala, which had reprecations all over India in thirties and forties



This dance form traces its origins to the nomadic bards of ancient northern India, known as Kathaks, or story tellers. These bards, performing in village squares and temple courtyards, mostly specialized in recounting mythological and moral tales from the scriptures, and embellished their recitals with hand gestures and facial expressions. It was quintessential theatre, using instrumental and vocal music along with stylized gestures, to enliven the stories. With the advent of Mughal culture, Kathak became a sophisticated chamber art. Patronized by art loving rulers, the practitioners of Kathak worked at refining its dramatic and rhythmic aspects, delighting elite audiences with their mastery over rhythm and the stylized mime. The technique of Kathak today is characterized by fast rhythmic footwork set to complex time cycles. The footwork is matched by the accompanying percussion instruments such as tabla and pakhawaj, and the dancer and percussionists often indulge in a virtuoso display of rhythmic wizardry .The dance movements include numerous pirouettes executed at lightning speed and ending in statuesque poses. The interpretative portion, based on tales of Radha and Krishna and other mythological lore, contains subtle gestures and facial expressions. Lucknow, Banaras and Jaipur are recognized as the three schools, or gharanas, where this art was nurtured and where the interpretative and rhythmic aspects were refined to a high standard



It is characterised by simplicity of presentation, wit and humour. This dance form was originated by Kunjan Nambiar, one of the leading poets of Malayalam. The solo performance is marked by fast rhythmic movements. The dancer himself sings the lead to the accompaniment of the mrudangam and thalam. Thullal is classified into three - Ottanthullal, Seethankam thullal and Parayanthullal - based on the meter and rhythm of the songs and the distinctions in costume and dance. As most other art forms of Kerala, Thullal also has colourful costumes, with elaborate headgears and paintings of the face. And is usually presented during temple festivals.



Odissi is the classical dance from of orissa in north east India. The classic treatise of Indian dance. Natya sasthra refers to it as Odra-Magadhi. It was suppressed under the British raj but has been reconstructed since India gained independence. It is particularly distinguished from other classical Indian dance forms by the importance it places upon the tribhangi (three parts break) the independent movement of head, chest and pelvis and upon the basic square stance known as chauka. The odissi tradition existed in three schools Mahari, NArtaki and Gotipua. Maharis were Orissan devadasis or temple girls particularly those at the temple of Jagannath at Puri. Early Maharis performed Nritha and Abhinaya based on the mantras and slokas, later Maharis performed dance sequences based on the lyrics of Jayadev's Gita Govinda. By the sixth century the Gotipua tradition was emerging. Gotipuas were young boys dressed as girls and taught the dance by the Maharis. They danced to the compositions of the vaishnava poets in Oriya dedicated to Radha and Krishna. The Gotipuas stepped out of the precincts of the temples. Nartakai dance took place in the royal courts, where it was much cultivated before the British period. At that time the misuse of devadasis came under strong attack, so that Odissi dance withered in the temples and became unfashionable at court. Only the remnants of the gotipua school remained, and the reconstruction of the style required an archaeological and anthropological effort that has tended to foster a conservative purism.


KALARIPPAYATTU (The martial art)

Kalarippaayattu is the most ancient martial art, born in Kerala State, India. One form of it is practiced in According to the legend, Bodhidharma went to China in 5th century A.D. and taught Buddhism and Kalarippayattu for self-defense.Even now, we can see ancient images depicted on the walls of the Shaolin Temple of Indian masters teaching the Chinese hermits both Kalarippayattu and massage.There are 3 types of Kalarippayattu in Kerala: Northern, Southern, and Mid-Kerala. They all work from a 'Kalari' (gymnasium, dojo), which hastraditional measurements of 42 feet long by 21 feet wide. It must be built in the direction from East to West, with the entrance from the East. The prayer-place, consisting of 7 steps, is in the southwest corner. Before starting the classes, every student is required to bow and pray.