The Kathakali Exhibition – the art of South Indian classical dance

I visited the Redbridge Kathakali exhibition yesterday, which was a small exhibition about a mainly male-classical dance, which originates from Kerala in South India. I thought it was quite an interesting exhibition, as I have heard of ‘kathak‘ dance which is a classical dance from India which is popular amongst men and women, but wanted to see how the South Indian Kathakali is related to this.

Kathakali (like kathak itself) is not just dancing – but about telling stories. I was surprised to learn, for example, that the classical dance incorporates sign language to express emotions (such as fingers opening outwards to signify a flower), which I think adds layers of complexities to the dance and the stories.

And of course the costumes were amazingly decorated. In my own culture, we have our own traditional styles of dress, accessories and even other adornments like mehndi – so it’s interesting to see the extravagantly and richly coloured layers of dress worn by these dancers – from the full on bright make-up, the intricate head-gear and to the several layers of robes and jewellery.

Definitely worth a look if you’re in the area – the exhibition’s free and there’s videos, costumes and models to look at.

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