One of the things that I really wanted to see here was Kathalaki, the particular traditional arts performance from Kerala. Kathakali is a mixture of theatre, dance, ballet, masque and pantomime. It is based on the stories of Ramayana and Mahabharata and, even if we do not understand the lyrics (nor the story), is a fascinating spectacle.
Traditionally it was played in temples after dusk falls and could last all night. Today it is rarely staged in full, being more popular to select only some scenes, and it is sometimes represented in theaters nearby the temples. Some touristic centers also offer shows but I do not know if they differ from the original ones.
We went on Saturday evening to a theatre to watch a performance. The entry was free and we had to remove our shoes to enter. Even though there were a few tourists (really, very few), most of the public were locals. There was a brief introduction of the show done in Malayalam (the language of Kerala), and then the performance started.
How to describe it? Since I did not understand the words, I was concentrated on the details, on the art itself. The first thing you notice are the costumes: they are wonderful and the make up is perfect. The music and lyrics are done on live by musicians (not the actors) with traditional instruments. The actors move slowly and gracefully, being the facial expressions the most amazing part of the performance.
I took a few videos so I invite you to see it by yourself (pay attention to the movements of the body, hand and faces, specially the eyebrows!).
These are from another show. It was the day after, I just happened to pass by a theater and I recognised the music, so I went inside for a few minutes to see.
** USEFUL INFORMATION **
The Kathakali show performances in theaters and temples are free. Information can be found in the newspaper The Hindu, section Around the city (at least for Trivandrum we found it there).
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