What is South Asian dance?


A guide to Kalaripayattu

Kalaripayattu also known as Kalari, originated in northern and central parts of Kerala in southern India. A kalari is the school or training hall where martial arts are taught. Kalaripayattu has strongly influenced the evolution of several of Kerala’s theatre and dance forms, most prominently Kathakali.

Kathakali practitioners are required to train under Kalari masters to develop various attributes such as fitness, stamina, and martial movements enacted in their performances. Kalaripayattu includes strikes, kicks, grappling, preset forms, weaponry and healing methods.

Dancers in silhouette on a beach shore
Kalaripayattu warriors. Photo: KaustubhShrm. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

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