Dances of Kerala! Tour Packages

Dancing is like dreaming with your feet!
By: Constanze

Dance is an integral part of the lives of the people of Kerala. In this wondrous state no celebration is complete without dance and music. The people of the state are great patrons of art and literature and foster their love of art through various forms of dances and theatrical exhibitions like Kathakali, Mohiniattam etc. Kerala dances will surely capture your heart with their beauty.
Keralites are equally fond of Carnatic and Hindustani music. Maharaja Swati Tirunal Ramavarma, a famous music composer of Kerala has left behind a rich legacy of songs in the form of kritis, vernams and padams in the karnatic style and khayals, thumris and drupads in the Hindustani style. Kerala dances are the major attractions of this enchanting state.

Classical Dances of Kerala

Kathakali dance of Kerala

Kathakali is one of the main dance forms of India. It is generally displayed in the form of ballet or dance-drama. Ideally, Kathakali insinuates the depiction of a story in the manner of a play. This form of ballet has originated from a feud between two royal families. Whereas one of them showcased the dance-drama in Sanskrit, circling the life of Lord Krishna (Krishnattam), the other ruler depicted the life of Lord Rama through his ballet (Ramattam). Thus Kathakali is supposed to be the fusion of both the styles along with poetic transcriptions in Sanskrit blend with Malayalam. The performance is actually the dramatized presentation of a play.
Conventionally, Kathakali is performed solely by male dancers, who make use of detailed and extremely stylized make-up and attires to portray epic characters from the Ramrayana, the Mahabharata, and the Puranas. The kathakali artist is supposed to undertake years of arduous guidance and follow a certain set of regulations. There are complicated exercises for the eyes and every nerve and muscle of the body, to express emotions, from the simplest to the most complex forms. The mask like facial make-up in colours green, red or yellow represents different kathakali characters.
Most Kathakali characters wear towering headgear, billowing skirts and abundant ornaments. Conventionally the dance was performed in the temple grounds and kept going throughout the nighttime. Usually, two vocalists sing the story complementing the Chenda (drum), cymbals and a gong, which the dancers recite through well defined actions and mudras or hand gestures, without being vocal at all.

Mohiniyattam dance of Kerala

Mohiniyattam is a wonderful classical dance form known for its graceful movements. Performed as a solo recital by women, this dance form encompasses elements from two South Indian dance forms, the Bharatanatyam and Kathakali. The word Mohiniyatam was derived from the two words - 'Mohni' meaning a woman who enchants onlookers and 'Attam' meaning graceful and sensuous body movements.
The gentle and graceful movements of the dance remind one of the swaying palm trees and gently flowing rivers of Kerala. There are around 40 different basic movements in Mohiniyattam dance. The eye movements of this dance form is really enchanting.

Chakyar Koothu

Chakyar Koothu is a wonderful art form of Kerala marked by narration of episodes from Great Hindu epics such as the Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Puranas. This art form also includes comedy acts, including commentary on socio-political issues. During the comedy act, the audience can pass their personal comments.
Here 'Chakyar' refers to a community and 'Koothu' meaning dance. This dance form was traditionally been performed by the Chakyar community only. Originally this art form used to be performed in the Koothambalam, a special place inside Hindu temples designed for performing Chakyar Koothu.

Folk Art Forms


Popular in the northern regions of Kerala, Kalampattu is a folk art form, which is around 600 years old. Performers in a group of five to fifteen perform this art form throughout night. It is performed in Bhadrakali and Ayyappa temples around an elaborate picture of Bhadrakali drawn on the floor with five colours.


Kalaripayattu is a Dravidian martial art of Kerala. It is believed that it is one of the oldest fighting systems in the world. This art form involves perfect coordination between body and mind. A great deal of hard work is involved in specializing in this art form. The practitioners of this art form meditate to tap their highest potential. The term 'Kalari' means 'school' and 'Payattu' means 'fight' or' to put hard work into'.


Stretching for 8 days, Kaliyoottu is a religious event. It showcases the battle between Goddess Durga and the demon Darika. The play continues for 8 days and on the last day of the event, the end of the play is performed on a 100 feet high special stage.


Kanniyarali is a dance form mostly performed in Bhagavathy temples. Accompanied by devotional folk songs, the dance form is truly a delight to the eyes. It is also known as Deshathukali.


It is a ritualistic dance involving a great deal of courage and faith. It is performed in Subramnya temples. Kavadi is a colourful bow shaped wooden structure which is being carried by the devotees while on their journey to the temple. The performers sport bright yellow coloured costumes with scented ash smeared on their faces and body.


Performed by the farming community, Kolkali is a group dance involving around 24 performers. Using wooden sticks as a prop, the dancers move in a circle tapping the two feet long sticks. A ceremonial lamp is lit in the centre of the circle.


Performed during the festivalof Onam, Thirvathirakali is a popular group dance of Kerala. Women form a circle and dance rhythmically on the Thiruvathira songs. Around eight women perform around a lamp or a floral decoration on the floor.


It is an interesting ritualistic dance form performed before the deity or near a temple pond. The performers wear traditional dress of soldiers, hold colourful shields and swords and dance away to glory.
Go on a dance tour of Kerala and enjoy the enchanting dances of Kerala along with several other attractions of this heavenly tourist destination.

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