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Kathakali is one of the most modern forms of classical dance form. This dance form is stylized and actually known as a dance-drama form. This form of dance is most popular for its over the top usage of make-up and colors, and its elaborate costume and marvellous use of expression. Originated in Kerala during the 17th century, from its inception, the dance form and costumes have transformed greatly for the good over the years.
Though the defined body movements or Mudra are very much the USP of the Kathakali dance form but what keeps people more gasped about is their astounding use of facial expressions.
So, here are the nine signature facial expressions or Navrasam in Kathakali dance:
1. Sringara (amour/love)
Traditionally, Kathakali is performed in 101 classical stories or episodes from Mahabharata or Ramayana.
2. Hasyam (comic)
There are many stories which are performed for as long as 3-4 hours.
3. Karunam (pathetic)
This classical art form contributes a lot of context from its use of colour, larger than life impact, supremely brilliant expression and the refined body gestures.
4. Raudram (furious/anger)
It is all about elegance while performing while synchronizing with the rhythmic beats.
5. Viram (heroic)
Facial expressions are given a lot of importance in this form of drama to convey various emotions.
6. Bhayanakam (terrible)
Nine main facial expressions along with the hand gestures create a lasting impression on the viewers’ mind.
7. Bibhatsam (odious)
Popular belief says that this dance form has emerged from “Krishnanattam” which is a dance drama on the life and activities of Lord Krishna.
8. Adbhutham (wonder)
It is also noticeable to see the refined gestures and added themes during the show surrounded with precise singing and drums to keep the beat going.
9. Santam (tranquility/peace)
Kathakali shares Krishnanattam, Koodiyattam, Ashtapadiyattam and Gitagovindam as these forms of art also represent elements from traditional and ritualistic art forms.
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Author: Srinanti Bagchi
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