Kathakali, which is performed with elaborate masks and costumes. The
dancers adorn themselves in huge skirts and head-dresses, wearing an
intricate style of make-up. The dance, which begins in the night, concludes
with the arrival of dawn. Kathakali has now gone global, with performances
of The Ilead, Medea and other dramatic works, translated into chaste Sanskrit
or Malayalam. The Kalamandalam is perhaps the best-known troupe of
Kathakali performers.
    Famous exponents of the Kathakali are: Kalamandalam Murali,
Kalamandalam Gopi, Guru Raghavan Nair, K. Shankaranarayan, Govindan
Kutty, Revatti, K. Venkitt, K. Vasunni, Raman Kutty Nair and Padmanabhan.
Mohiniattam, one of the two major dance dramas of Kerala, is a dance form
of an enchantress, who causes havoc and destruction to the wicked and great
delight and pleasure to the good. It is a synthesis of Kathakali,
Bharatanatyam and a few folk dances of the region. It is however said to be
older than the Kathakali. The first reference to Mohiniattam is found in
‘Vyavaharamala’ composed by Mazhamangalam Narayanan Namboodiri,
assigned to the 16th century AD.
    In the 19th century, Swati Thirunal, the king of erstwhile Travancore, did
a lot to encourage and stabilize this art form. Poet Vallathol revived it and
gave it a status in the modern times through the Kerala Kalamandalam, which
he founded in 1930. Kalamandalam Kalyaniamma, the first dance teacher of
the Kalamandalam was instrumental in resuscitating this ancient art form.
Her interests to nurture aspirants in this discipline at the Kalamandalam was
ably assisted and supported by Krishna Panicker, Madhavi Amma and
Chinnammu Amma.
    Mohiniattam is based on the theme of love and devotion to Lord Vishnu
or Lord Krishna. The basic format of the traditional Mohiniattam repertoire is
similar to that of the Bharatanatyam, progressing through Cholkettu,
Jathiswaram, Varnam, Padam and Tillana. It presents a perfect combination
of abinaya, nritta and nritya to evoke rasa. Mohiniattam songs contain the
theme of divine love and the dancer interprets it with her skilled footwork,
movements of the hands, and