Kerala Dance Forms
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Kanyarkali

Kanyarkali: Kerala Dance

The Kanyarkali dances (also known as Desathukali) are fast moving, militant dances attuned to rhythmic devotional folk songs and asuravadyas. They are said to originate from the pursuit of martial arts when the region was under threat of attack from nearby Konganadu. Kannyarkali arose when dance and comedy were added to the martial training sessions. The dances may be performed in the ritualistic Vattakkali style, or the more relaxed Porattu style.
Though performed by Nairs, Kanyarkali depicts the life of the Malayalams, one-time slaves and dependents of the feudal chieftains and jenmies of the Malabar area in Kerala. The accompanying folk songs also throw some light on the ancient feudal relationships. Musical instruments like chenda, maddalam, elathalam and chengala are used. The costumes are very colorful.
A number of participants of these Kannyar Kali have exhibited this art form as part of the contingents of Kerala art forms in the Republic Day parade folk festival presentations in Delhi on January 26 of each year. There is strict regimen of kanniar kali folk art which are handed down for generations and learned by the young boys and men from elderly proponents called Asaans.All the learnings are handed down by practise only and no written records are kept of these contents and practise of art forms. There is gradual erosion of this rich art form as older generations wither away with out fully handing over all the lessons of this art form. If no attempts are made to capture these art forms in writing, there is every likelihood that this art form may die out in due course.

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