Kathakali has been an all-male art form, with even women characters being portrayed by men. On this tour we meet members of India's first All Womens Kathakali group who broke through the male bastion, excelled in the art and made a mark for themselves. From being dismissed as a fad that would not last long they went on to win the President of India's medal of honour in the year 2017. On this tour the women artistes share with us their inspiring journey of starting the group while alongside explaining the different elements of this fascinating art form- its stories, language, costumes, music, training, mythology, et al. The interaction ends with a brief lecture-demonstration without make-up or costume. The tour is designed to be an informal one, it flows along naturally as a conversation between visitor and artiste, and last for about 2 hrs. The interaction is arranged at the private residence of the women artiste(s) which is located in Kochi, Kerala.
You will be received at the Kalikotta Palace in Tripunithura, an erstwhile School for the Princes and Princesses of the Royal Family of Cochin (Kochi). Today it is a well known cultural centre in the region that promotes local art forms, and once in a while also rented out for weddings. Tripunithura was the last seat of power of the Royal Family before Indian independence. Many members of the Royal Family still live here. A short walk of less than five minutes will bring you to the private residence of the Artiste. The residence is a heritage home with a mix of traditional and colonial architecture. Once the introductions are over the Artiste slowly pulls you into her world of dance-dramas (katha-kali) and a highly evolved form of storytelling using hand gestures. The stories are all from the Indian epics. The intense training, elaborate makeup and colourful costume is what makes Kathakali Kerala's celebrated art form. Along side she will also share her experience and the journey of the founding members (sometimes the founding members also join in) in starting the all women's group. The encouragement, the criticisms, the hard work, and the eventual success they achieved are the stuff of dreams. All of that is shared in the course of the interaction. The interaction is designed to be two way in nature, and you will love being part of it. Towards the end of the interaction a refreshing drink like cold lemon juice or tea/coffee with traditional Kerala snacks is served. At the end you are welcome to take pictures with the Artistes(s), before saying your goodbyes.