Kathakali is a form of dance drama. Elements of music, dance, painting, poetry and drama blend in a unique way to make this art form stand out amongst other classical dance forms that has evolved in India.Kathakali evolved from classical dance forms such as Koodiyattam and Raamanattom. During its evolution, Kathakali imbibed elements from the folk art forms that existed in Kerala. The many aspects of traditional rituals and ceremonies that Kathakali picked up on its evolutionary course from various folk arts, has since then become its integral part. This unique art form thus makes appreciation of art easy and fulfilling for both the novices and connoisseurs alike. The classical elements of this art form compriseNatya (enactment),Nritha (the element of dance with emphasis on rhythm) andNrithya (the element of dance with emphasis on expressions of emotions). Geetha (song, vocal) andVadya (comprising instruments) supplement these elements to perfection to yield a complete theatrical art form. Kathakali is better appreciated and understood with an understanding ofMudras- gestures of hands.The actors in a sense, translates background music into dance and drama that can be easily understood. A story is frame-worked within an intricate array of lyrics and poems. Kathakali is unique in that it has the most colorful and elaborate costumes in use in a dance form. In this respect, Kathakali shares some interesting aspects with the ritualistic dance form Kabuki, of Japan.
Kuchipudi is a dance form that originated from an ubiquitous village by the same name in Andhra Pradesh, a southern state of India. Kuchipudi derives its name from the village Kuchelapuram. The technique of Kuchipudi makes use of fast rhythmic footwork and sculpturesque body movements. Stylized mime, using hand gestures and subtle facial expression, is combined with more realistic acting, occasionally including dialogues spoken by the dancers. For a long time, the art was presented only at temples and that too only for annual festivals of certain temples in Andhra Pradesh. According to tradition, Kuchipudi dance was originally performed only by men and they all belonged to the Brahmin community. These Brahminfamilies were known popularly as Bhagavathalu of Kuchipudi. The very first group of Brahmain Bhagavathulu of Kuchipudi was formed in 1502 AD. Their programs were offerings to the deities and they never allowed women in their groups. However things have changed now with the modern dancers primarily comprising of women.
Manipuri is one of the six major classical dances of India. Manipuri dance is indigenous to Manipur, the North eastern state of India. The Manipuri dance style is inextricably woven into the life pattern of Manipuri people. The most striking part of Manipur dance is its colorful decoration, lightness of dancing foot, delicacy of abhinaya (drama), lilting music and poetic charm. The Manipuri dance form is mostly ritualistic and draws heavily from the rich culture of the state of Manipur. Costumes used in the Manipur dance are colorful and the music carries a quaint charm.Manipuri dance is entirely religious and aims at gaining spiritual experience. The Manipuri dance is not only a medium of worship and delight but also essential for all socio-cultural ceremonies of Manipuri people. Looking from a religious and artistic point of view the Manipuri Classical dance is said to be one on the purest, modest, softest and mildest and meaningful dances.Manipuri Dance is a common name and envelopes all the dance-forms of Manipur. Thus, Manipuri dance can be called a basket of various dances. According to legends the original creator of Manipuri dance was Radha and Krishna. This Rasa Leela dance is said to be repeated by Shiva and his consort, Goddess Uma in Lasya style (in Manipur). It is interesting to note that the same dance (Rasa-dance) was performed for the third time by two mortal human beings, princess Toibi and Khamba of Manipur. The dance performed by these two lovers is known as Lai Haraoba.The most important facet of Manipuri culture is that it has preserved the ancient ritual based dances and folk dances along with the later developed classical Manipuri dance style. Of all the classical categories, the 'Ras Leela' (a greatly evolved dance drama, choreographed on 'Vaishnavite Padavalis') is the utmost expression of artistic genius, devotion and excellence of the Manipuri people.