Kathakali Dancers and Performace

Kathakali Dancers and Performace

Kathakali is a dance form from Kerala. It is very complex dance form with elaborate makeup and costume. I saw my first Kathakali performance in Cochin.
We booked tickets over the phone. The theater people advised us to visit at least 2 hours before the performance so that we can see artist apply elaborate makeup on their faces.
We reached early as advised and it was a pleasure to watch them apply makeup. It was a long process of approx 3+ hours.


I had seen in photographs and TV programs that most of the artists have red eyes and it was a mystery for me. During the makeup, I have seen that they put a small seed inside their lower eyelid and eyes get red due to this.  After makeup, they dress in traditional costumes and started performce.

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In Kathakali dance form story is told mainly with eye movements, hand gestures, and foot movements. They had given us a paper with the story for the day. One artist explained all mudra’s with meanings before the performance, the main reason is to make us understand when they perform.

We had seen the story from Mahabharata, where Bheem kills the Kichaka who was troubling his wife Draupadi.kathakali-copy

It was a more than one-hour performance with dance, music, and singing. We thoroughly enjoyed and it was an evening to remember for a long time.

Where to watch –

There are few theaters in Fort Cochin area. They have Kathakali and Kalarippayattu performance every evening. During the day they run school where pupil learns these art forms. Ask your hotel or homestay for the closest theater.

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