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Indian dance-drama form from Kerala in SW India. Its name has the same derivation as kathak but as a dance form it is far more vividly theatrical in style. The stories in its repertory are taken from the ancient Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabharata as well as from folk tales. Its dancer-actors (who are traditionally male, due to the strenuousness of performances) employ vigorous, highly stylized gestures to reflect the words sung by the musicians standing behind them as well as to evoke the atmosphere and setting of each scene. Costumes and head-dresses are elaborate and the make-up (which can take four hours to apply) symbolizes the moral nature of the characters, with different colours depicting good, evil, male, or female qualities. Performances often begin at dusk and may last for sixteen hours.

Subjects: Indian Music — Performing Arts.

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