Kathakali is the classical dance form of Kerala. The word Kathakali
literally means "Story-Play". Kathakali is known for its
heavy, elaborate makeup and costumes. In fact, the colorful and
fascinating costumes of Kathakali have become the most recognized
icon of Kerala. Kathakali is considered as one of the most
magnificent theatres of imagination and creativity. Kathakali dance
presents themes derived from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and other
Hindu epics, mythologies and legends.
A Kathakali actor uses immense concentration, skill and physical stamina, gained from regimented training based on Kalaripayattu, the ancient martial art of Kerala, to prepare for his demanding role. The training can often last for a long period, and is intensive. In Kathakali, the story is enacted purely by the movements of the hands (called mudras or hand gestures) and by facial expressions (rasas) and bodily movements. The expressions are derived from Natyashastra (the tome that deals with the science of expressions) and are classified into nine as in most Indian classical art forms. Dancers also undergo special practice sessions to learn control of their eye movements.
Kathakali artistes need assiduous grooming for almost a decade's time, and most masters are products of accomplished institutions that give a minimum training course of half-a-dozen years. Finally, kathakali dance does enable a lot of upper and lower body movements. This is variable. A vigorous body movement is a good form of physical training for botth young children and adults.