Dance & Theatre
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Bali in Kutiyattam

The word Kutiyattam in Malayalam means ‘acting together’. True to its name, it is a theatre in which many characters come together on stage. It is a blend of classical Sanskrit tradition and Kerala’s cultural heritage.

Kutiyattam is viewed as one of the oldest theatrical arts in India. This ancient art form is one which is promoted by UNESCO since it safeguards a rare oral and intangible tradition.

Segments of Sanskrit plays are taken for Kutiyattam performance. But on stage, these short acts get a full fledged identity.

The main linguistic medium of Kutiyattam is Sanskrit. But the Vidushaka or jester of the dance drama speaks in the vernacular.

Kutiyattam is performed strictly indoors in separate theatres called Koothambalams constructed as an annex to the temples, mostly on the right side.

In Kutiyattam, as in Kathakali, there are specific make-ups representing certain qualities. The Pacha (green) characters are noble ones, the Pazhukka (light red) are both noble and heroic, the Kathi (knife) are valorous but evil, Thadi (beard) are monkey characters like Hanuman, Minukku (gloss) are simple and female characters and the Kari (black) denotes demonesses like Surpanakha.

Percussions like Mizhavu, thimila and edakka and wind instruments like kurumkuzhal and sankhu accompany the Kutiyattam performance. In the video it is Kalamandalam Sivan Namboothiri, the renowned Kutiyattam artist, performing as Bali.