Dance and music is an integral part of the life of the people of India and is the reflection of indomitable spirit of people that represents its cultural panorama. Dance and music of Kerla has its own distinctive style, forms, attires and technique of expression. Each of these Kerala dance marks the celebration of festive occasions, harvesting seasons, religious ceremonies, weddings etc. Many dance forms of Kerala are associated with the legends and events depicted in great Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. The costumes and ornaments are peculiar to the places to which they belong.
Some of the most famous dance forms of Kerala include
Kathakali:- Orgnated some 500 years ago Kathakali is a spectacular classical dance of Kerala. It is a theatrical dance form which is a combination of drama, dance, music and rituals. The literal meaning of Kathakali is Katha means a story and Kali means play. Thus Kathakali means Story –Play which was previously staged only in temples,, mansions and palaces of the rulers. It has now become an integral part of culture of Kerala and various events and festivals are organized to showcase this dance form.
Mohiniattam:-It is another famous classical dance form of Kerala which is famous as the dance of celestial enchantress. It is mainly performed by the women and is renowned for its graceful moments and elegant costumes. Historically, the temple dancers or the devdasis perform this dance in the temples of Kerala.
Kalaripayattu:-It is a martial dance form and perhaps the oldest martial art practiced in the world. Kalaripayattu derives its name from "Kalari" means the arena in which the combatants fight and "payattu" which means practice in Malayalam. Now days it is practiced more like fitness training and a sport while previously soldiers and warriors practiced it as a fighting art. There are two main forms of Kalaripayattu –the Vadakkan which is a northern style and Thekkam which is a southern style both of which differ in their speeds and movements.
Theyyam or Kaliyattam:- It is an ancient socio-religious ceremony which is performed in Kerala since remote times. In ancient times every village of Kerala has its own common shrine called Kavu and it is imperative to have Kaliyattom performed in front of it. As the word Kali means safety in Malyalam and thus Kaliyattom is performed as a sacred dance for social or family safety.
Kolkali:- It is a dance form where men and women both can participate. The performers have to move in a circle striking small sticks and follow a special rhythm with special foot steps.
Oppana Dance:- This dance is specifically performed by the Muslim community. It is basically a bridal group dance which is performed a day before the wedding. During Opppana dance the young girl’s female friends and relative dance around the bride and sing with clapping their hands.