|A rich and flourishing tradition of dance drama can be
witnessed in the picturesque state of Kerala, a narrow strip of bountiful
land running along the west coast of India. Here, in the night, the drums
roll, beckoning an audience to a most magnificent spectacle. Kathakali,
a well-developed dance-drama, is an all-male performance where the actors
depict characters from the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata
and from the Puranas (ancient scriptures). The dancers adorn themselves
in huge skirts and headdress, wearing a most intricate style of make-up.
Kathakali draws heavily from drama and is danced with elaborate masks and costumes. Kathakali recitals are generally long and while other dance forms are more emotive than narrative, Kathakali is both. It combines dance with dialogue to bring myth and legend to life in the temple courtyards of Kerala. The dancers use their stunning costumes and make-up, with the accompaniment of drums and vocalists, to create various moods and emotions. So strong is the identification of the dancers with the characters they play and so absolute their conviction, that they seem to surpass themselves, becoming one with the legendary heroes and heroines they depict.