Kerala is home to a number of dance and artforms. Several dance forms which originated in Kerala are today popular worldwide especially the Kathakali dance form.
Kathakali: Kathakali is a spectacular classical dance form of Kerala which was originated over fifty decades ago. It is a combination of dance, music, drama and ritual. Kathakali is one of the oldest theatre forms in the world. The word 'Katha' in Malayalam means Story and 'kali' means Play. Thus Kathakali literally means 'Story-Play'.
Some of the other performing arts would be:
Kaikottikkali/Thiruvathirakali: Kaikottikkali, also known as Thiruvathirakali, is a very popular group dance of Kerala. Thiruvathirakali is performed by the women of Hindu community, often during festive seasons like Onam and the Thiruvathira day in the Malayalam month of Dhanu (December- January).
Margamkali: Margamkali is a very ancient and the most popular artistic performance prevalent among the Syrian Christians of Kerala. Margamkali is performed mainly by men on festive occasions, especially during the time of marriage.
Oppana: Oppana is a dance form specific to the Muslim community of Kerala. Oppana is usually a bridal group dance performed the day before the wedding day. It is a dance form essential to the wedding entertainment and festivities of the Muslims especially in the Malabar region of Kerala.
Koodiyattam: Koodiyattam is the earliest classical dramatic art form of Kerala. Evidence show that this dance form was in vogue in all major temples from ninth century, and it became a full-fledged dramatic presentation before the fifteenth century. Koodiyattam literally means "acting together". Koodiyattam is a temple art and probably the only surviving form of the traditional presentation of Sanskrit drama.
Mohiniyattam: Mohiniyattam, a dance form closely related to Bharathanatyam of Tamil Nadu, which was originally called 'Dasiyattam'. Originated as the temple dance performed by Devadasis, it portrays feminine love in its myriad forms - carnal, devotional and maternal- with accent more on Lasya and Bhava. In the main items Cholkettu, Padavarnam and Padam, Mudras and facial expressions are more important than the rhythmic steps. Costumes and ornaments of Mohiniyattam have much in common with female characters of Koodiyattam and Kathakali.
Theyyam: Theyyam otherwise known as Kaliyattam or Thirayattam, is one of the most outstanding folk arts of Kerala. Just as the name Kaliyattam indicates, it is a sacred ritual dance performed to glorify the goddess Kaali. The term 'Theyyam' is supposed to be the corrupt form of the Malayalam word 'Daivam', meaning God.It earned the name Thirayattam as every thira or village performed this ritualistic art at the village temple known askaavu.
Thitambu Nritham: Thitambu Nritham, mainly performed by Namboothiris in Kerala, and rarely other Braahmanan communities, say for example, Embranthiris.
Duffmuttu/Aravanmuttu/Arbanamuttu: Duffmuttu (also known as Aravanmuttu or Arbanamuttu) is a dance form particular to the Muslim community of Kerala. The origin of Duffmutt can be traced back to the Arabs. It is still accompanied by Arabic music. The name Duffmuttu is attributed to the use of an instrument called duff or tap. Daff is a round percussion instrument with one side covered with hide and is used to produce rhythm.
Kummattikkali: Kummattikkali is a mask dance popular in some of the northern districts of Kerala. The dancers, wearing painted wooden masks and sporting sprigs of leaves and grass, go dancing from house to house. A popular Kummatti character is Thalla or the witch.