Performing Arts of Kerala


The masked dance theatre is a harmonious blend of dance, drama and music.  Kathakali dancers wear voluminous colourful skirts, elaborate headgear and jewellery.  They enact tales from Puranas and epics like Mahabharata.  The dance is unique in several features and can be distinguished on the basis of make-up and costumes.  It comprises of both thandva and lasya elements of dancing.  Women generally do not participate in this dance.

Mohiniyattam (the dance of the ‘enchantress)

This is another typical dance of Kerala is the feminine counterpart of Kathakali.  The dance technique is essentially feminine and languorous and its movements are very soft and graceful.


This classical art form is indeed a social satire, providing great amusement and entertainment.  There are three forms of Thulal Ottanthullal, Parayanthullal and Sheetanganthullal.


The spectacular dance ritual is associated with north Malabar region. It was originally held to please the folk deities, mother goddess, ancestor and spirits.  The dance is performed by males wearing masks, body paint, colourful costumes and headgear (mudi).  The presentation starts with thottam (song) in praise of the deity.  Dance steps accompanied by rhythmic beats of drums and cymbals are clearly influenced by kalaripayattu, the martial tradition of Kerala.  Theyyams are usually held between December and May.