One of the prominent dances of Kerala, Koothu Dance is a solo performance which comprises of acting and dancing. This art form was developed as a part of the ancient tradition of Kerala’s well known Sanskrit theatre – ‘Koodiyattam’.The term "Koothu" literally means ‘dance’ - which might seem as a misnomer, since there is very little choreography involved in this art form; although facial expressions are important. Nevertheless, it is believed that ‘dance’ might have played an integral part in the original form of this ancient art.One of the oldest performing arts of Kerala, Koothu Dance was traditionally performed by the Chakyar community in Kerala, that too only in the ‘Koothambalam’ (temple-theater) of temples.It is a solo narrative performance interspersed with mime and comic interludes. The audience was mostly restricted to the upper class Hindus.The part of Koothu Dance, which is performed only by the ‘Nangiars’or the female members of the Chakyar community, is called Nangiar Koothu. This is a solo dance drama mainly centred on the legends of Krishna. Verses are sung and interpreted through mime and dance.The 'Mudras', though the same as inKootiyattam, are even more elaborate.

Nangiar Koothu is an art performed by the Nangiars or the female members of the Chakkiar community.This is a solo dance drama mainly centred on the legends of Sree Krishna.Verses are sung and interpreted through mime and dance. The mudras, though the same as in Kootiyattam, are even more elaborate. Nangiar Koothu Dance is still performed in some temples in Kerala like the Vadakkunnatha Temple at Thrissur, Sri Krishna Temple at Ambalappuzha, Koodal Manickyam Temple at Irinjalakkuda and Kumaranalloor temple at Kottayam.

Chakkiar Koothu is a socio-religious art performed in the 'Koothambalams' or the 'Koothuthara' of temples, either independently or as a part of Koottiyattam.It is a kind of mono act. It is the traditional equivalent of a stand-up comic act. However, unlike the stand-up comics, the performer has a wider leeway in that he can heckle the audience.It is a solo narrative performance by the 'Chakkiar', interspersed with mime and comic interludes. The 'Chakkiar' dons the role of 'Vidushaka' or a wise jester.Through his inimitable narration of stories from the Epics, the 'Chakkiar' satirizes the manners and customs of the time. No one is above the butt of his ridicule.



In 1949, Rama Chakyar performed Koothu at Thekkekara Illam in Kottarakara. Suspecting the displeasure of his teacher Parameswara (Chachu) Chakyar, Rama Chakyar composed an impromptu sloka that served two purposes: praising both Lord Parameswara and Guru Parameswara simultaneously, and started the historic performance with these verses of praise. The late mizhavu maestro Chathakudam Krishnan Nambiar supported Rama Chakyar and accompanied him as a percussionist. In order to reduce the intensity of criticism, at some point during that period, Rama Chakyar designed a slightly different costume for Koothu while it was presented outside the temple precincts.


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