The dance forms are performed both by men and women. Men have more dance forms than women in this state. It is very difficult to classify these dance forms on the basis of social, religious and marital grounds. The dance forms in Kerela are worshiped and have become the life of the people performing them. The dance forms are perfect and unique in their presentation as it displays expressions in a manner which explains the meaning of the dance accompanied by perfect suitable costumes. There are nearly 50 dance forms in Kerala out of which Kathakali, Thiruvathirakali, Ottamthullal, Koodiyattam, Chakyar Kothu and Theyam are famous.
Kerala is known for this dance form. It is the ancient dance drama of Kerala which is the oldest theater form. It is a combination of dance, drama, music, acting, percussion, mythology, cultures and rituals. This dance form is performed on mythological characters of the epics such as Ramayana, Mahabharata and other ancient scriptures. It is generally performed by the male dancers. The people of Kerala worship this dance form. It is done b y the dancers with elaborately painted faces, heavy, classy and colorful costumes, headgear, stylized makeup, billowing skirt and plentiful ornaments. Mostly this dance form is based on the story of ancient scriptures which is presented by the artists accompanied by the song sung using Chenda. Thus it is literally meaning ‘Story-telling’.
Mohiniyattam is also known as ‘Kerala Nadanam’. It is a female semi classical dance which is very sensual and done with graceful moves. It is mostly done in the temple grounds of Kerala. It is done with the theme of love and devotion for God. The dance movements are gentle, graceful and eye expressions are compelling. The attire for this dance form is very simple(white saree and golden borders) with realistic makeup.
Thirvathirakali is also known as Kaikottikali. This dance form is performed during the Onam festival in Kerala. It is a group dance performed by both women who can dance in circles and rhythmically to the tunes of the song played during this dance form.
Kolkalli is a dance form which is performed by both men and women in a group of 24 dancers. The rhythmic tune is generated with the wooden sticks with special steps. The dance is performed in a circle by the artists. The accompanying has variations in the sound and pitch of the music which generally goes up and the dance reaches its climax.
This dance form has been created by Malayalam poet named Kalakkaththu Kunchan Nambiar. This dace is performed in a story format where every artist plays their characters accompanied by the musical tone, mridangam and a idakka.
Koodiyattam is a dramatic dance presentation in Sanskrit. It is said that the history of dance drama emerged from Koodiyattam. The meaning of this dance form is ‘dancing together and that is the reason men and women share an equal status in Koodiyattam. Instruments with high quality music are used In this.
Chakyar koothu is an ancient dance form and is belongs to highly refined monologue. This dance form is narrated in a dance form to the audience using epics and ancient scriptures. It is performed only during special occasions and festivals in the temples of Kerala. This dance form involves minimum choreography and maximum facial expressions.
Theyyam is a socio-religious dance form of kerala also known as Kaliyatom or Thirayattom. It is a ritual dance form to glorify goddess Kaali. It is performed in every village and is very much popular in the lower castes of the society. It is performed without any particular makeup or colorful costumes.
It is one of the oldest theatrical arts of not only kerala but the entire country. It is performed by the professional Chakyar caste in the Koothambalam of temples. This dance is done by facial expressions, signs and gestures.
It is considered as the proto type of kathakali. It is based on the life of Lord Rama, considered as the incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The artists are creatively decorated and the faces are painted with loads of make up to make it even more attractive.
Ashtapadi Attom means the dance based on Gita Govinda. This dance drama is based on life of Lord Krishna. It is one of the extinct dance forms of Kerala. The main characters are Krishna, Radha and other three women characters. This dance form is also in the story- telling format which expresses the life of the Lord Krishna.
Patakom is a dance form which very less expensive than other dance forms. It is usually performed in small events. Patakom includes acting with the narration using alternative prose and song sequences and gestures with which the story is presented.
As the name suggests, this dance form is also based on the life of Lord Krishna. It is presented in a eight day cycle. The daily offerings are given to Lord Krishna with this dance form in the temples of Guruvayur temple.
Sangha kali is also known as Sastrakali, Chathirakali or Vatrakali. It is a socio religious dance form where artists are trained with physical excercises and military training with special stress on physical feats and swordsmanship. It is done using weapons and the last part of this dance is called Kudameduppu.
It is a dance form of Bhagavathy Cult based on its glory and triumph. The characters in this dance form look very much supernatural because of the gorgeous costumes, facial paintings along with the heavy headgears.
This dance form is very loud as the artists shout and there are heavy drum beats. It is a group dance with perfection in the coordination of the artists in shouting and creating a rhythmic tone with their noise.
This is a group dance of Moplahs of Malabar. This dance form is done in symmetry and there is coordination in the footsteps of each dancer along with the drum beat done by them. They beat on the dappu with each dancer holds in his left hand and dance with swayings of the body.
Poykkuluau also known as marakkalattom. This is a still dance performed in coonection with the temple festivals. It is done to worship Durga and present the offering with this dance form.
It is a dance form of north kerala. The costumes of the dancers are made of leaves and twigs carried with the crude facial marks and heavy skirts. This dance is performed on the instrumental tone of chenda and kinni.
Poorakkali is a folk dance performed in the bhagavathy temples of Kerala as a ritual offering done during the month of Meenam. In this dance form the dancers are well trained with all the techniques and feats of Kalaripayattu. It is performed round the lighting lamp, in eighteen different stages with different rythms, each phase called as Niram.
This is a ritual dance to worship Goddess Kali.This dance form is very much rhythmic in nature and done with vociferous shouting and chanting of the accompanying crowd.
This dance form is performed for the family wealth and happiness. It is usually performed by the members of the community.
This dance is done to give offerings to Lord Subra mania. The costumes of the artists are yellow or rose clothes in color with kavadi on their shoulders. They dance in a row on a rhythmic tone of udduku, chenda, etc.
It is also a folk dance of Kerala which is performed by females to entertain the brides and by males to entertain the bridegrooms. It is basically done in the muslim community of kerala.
Apart from these dance forms there are Parichamuttu Kali, Kampada Vu Kali, Thookam, Thumpi Thullal, Kummi, Morgam Kali, Arjuna Nritham, Kummatti, Gurudan Thookam, Thuyattu, Thirayattom etc. these dance forms are performed to worship different gods and rarely on different occasions. The city of Kerala is rich with almost 50 dance forms performed almost on every occasion and festival.