Kathakali Dance

Kalamandalam Gopi

A world of dreams... That is the only place where we might conceivably meet anything similar. (C. G. Jung)

Kathakali is a Classical dance from Southern India. Its movement technique blends harmoniously with acting, music, make-up and costumes to depict the epic narrative. The characters are grouped under certain clearly defined types; they are not only individuals but also symbolic personalities. The striking make-up and the costume are designed to transform the dancers both mentally and physically into the characters they are to portray. It takes between five to six hours for a Kathakali dancer to complete the make-up and costume which heighten each character's personality and extend his/her movement. To narrate a story or portray a character, coded facial expressions, called nawa rasas, and hand gestures create a kind of sophisticated sign language made up of a large variety of meaningful units called mudras. All of these elements combine with abstract movement and personal interpretation to recreate, to the mighty sounds of gongs, cymbals and drums, the myths and legends of the past and present.

In 1978, Richard Tremblay introduced Kathakali in Canada through his Kathakali Institute, now Danse Kalashas. Bruno Paquet came in with the Kathakali percussion instruments, in 1985. Since then, these two artists, who trained in Kerala Kalamandalam, have participated in more than 300 Kathakali performances, in the country and abroad.


Kathakali Album. A collection of photographs by Richard Tremblay, taken in Kerala between 1976 and 1981. It includes exclusive photographs of dancers Ramam Kutty Nair, and Kalamandalam Gopi.
Initiation to Dance Training in India Initiation to Dance Training, In India. An article, by Richard Tremblay, first published by "The Journal of Indian Dance", 1981. (In French.)

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