Kathakali is one of the leading classical dance forms in India showcases attention-grabbing dance dramas. In fact, it is an unavoidable feature of the cultural life of Kerala. Kathakali is truly an icon of the state that draws the attention of people with its bright costumes, elaborate makeup and intricate movements of hand, face, body and eyes. All the theatre and classical dance lovers should watch a Kathakali performance, which is indigenous to Kerala during their visit to this state.
In the local language Malayalam, Kathakali means “Story Play”. This traditional dance, which is a blend of dance, music and acting, tells the stories from the Indian epics. Each Kathakali dancer, be it a woman or man wears a painted face. Performers of this dance form communicate stories using mimes and animated expressions with facial expressions and hand gestures to music. The music for Kathakali comprises of Carnatic ragas while the traditional instruments used for the orchestra are Chenda, Maddalam, Idakka, Shanku, Chengila and Ilathalam. Reach this article to check out some of the best places in Kochi to watch this majestic art form.
Kerala Kathakali Centre
When it comes to Kathakali performances, the most popular place in Kochi is the Kerala Kathakali Centre. The main performers at this place are from the Kerala Kalamandalam, a major center for learning Indian classical dance forms. The shows are conducted in the air conditioned hall at this place every day from 6 pm to 7.30 pm. Kerala Kathakali Centre is nestled in Fort Kochi adjacent to the famous Santa Cruz Basilica.
Even though watching a Kathakali performance at Folklore Museum is a bit pricey, it is one of the most luxurious places in Kochi to watch this dance form comfortably. With beautifully decorated and air conditioned hall with traditional Kerala murals and wooden architecture, spending a few hours in this cultural center can be a thrilling experience. Prince Charles chose this place to watch a Kathakali performance during his visit to India. Folklore Museum is in the southern side of Ernakulam near Thevara ferry.
Ernakulam Kathakali Club
Ernakulam Kathakali Club is certainly an excellent place to watch a Kathakali performance. You can watch night-long plays in this place once in a month performed by leading artists. The club organizes this dance play either in the TDM hall or Ernakulathappan Hall near the Shiva Temple in Ernakulam as their venue. If you choose this place to watch a Kathakali performance, you can get the details of the venue, timings and performances with all the major tourist centers in Kochi.
Dr. Devan’s Kathakali
Named after the founder Dr. Devan, this cultural center is among the oldest organizers in Kerala for arranging Kathakali shows for tourists. Dr. Devan’s Kathakali lies very close to the Ernakulam Junction railway station where you can watch this dance performance from 6.45 pm to 8 pm. The shows in this place start with a speech on Indian mythology and philosophy. Both are related to this dance form.
One of the highlights of Kairali Kathakali is that it allows you to watch this traditional dance form of Kerala in a small but intimate setting. It is located in Fort Kochi area opposite the elegant Brunton Boatyard Hotel.
Rhythms Theatre Greenix Village
Located in the Kalvathy Road opposite to the Fort House, Greenix Village in Fort Cochin shall be the most expensive and grand place in Kochi to watch a Kathakali performance. The Rhythms Theatre is high on entertainment value. Visit this place on Sundays so that you can watch performance which combines excerpts not only from Kathakali but also from Theyyam, Kalaripayattu and Mohiniyattam.
If you are fond of the traditional dance form of Kathakali, try to reach the venue an hour or half an hour earlier so that you can watch how to do the Kathakali makeup. Many theatres allow tourists to watch the makeup process as it is an important aspect of this dance drama. Once you watch Kathakali, you will realize that it is the king of performing arts.