📍 In Kerala, it is called “𝐋𝐞 𝐊𝐚𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐤𝐚𝐥𝐢 𝐝𝐮 𝐩𝐚𝐮𝐯𝐫𝐞! "
It is not Kathakali, but we are not far! Alone on stage, 𝐥'𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐞𝐮𝐫-𝐝𝐚𝐧𝐬𝐞𝐮𝐫 𝐝𝐞 𝐓𝐡𝐮𝐥𝐥𝐚𝐥 𝐝𝐨𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐞, in the spotlight, and not lacking in charm ...

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📯 It is a 𝐚𝐫𝐭 𝐩𝐨𝐩𝐮𝐥𝐚𝐢𝐫𝐞 𝐝𝐮 𝐊𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐥𝐚 who made the glory of great artists. Its origin is attributed to 𝐊𝐮𝐧𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐧 𝐍𝐚𝐦𝐛𝐢𝐚𝐫, one of Kerala's greatest poets. Like all the performing arts of India, it closely mixes 𝐩𝐨é𝐬𝐢𝐞, 𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐭, 𝐦𝐮𝐬𝐢𝐪𝐮𝐞, 𝐫é𝐜𝐢𝐭𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐟𝐬 𝐞𝐭 𝐝𝐚𝐧𝐬𝐞, but it is above all an art of humor, derision, and even a certain social criticism.
The 𝐢𝐧𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐬 used are the 𝐦𝐚𝐝𝐝𝐚𝐥𝐚𝐦 (horizontal drum with two heads) and the small cymbals. The cymbal player sets the rhythm and assists the actor-dancer in the song.
𝐋'𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐞𝐮𝐫-𝐝𝐚𝐧𝐬𝐞𝐮𝐫intercale of 𝐫é𝐜𝐢𝐭𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐟𝐬 𝐢𝐦𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐯𝐢𝐬é𝐬 which brings out the meaning, and adds to the danced movements of 𝐞𝐱𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐟𝐚𝐜𝐢𝐚𝐥𝐞𝐬, 𝐝𝐞𝐬 𝐠𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐬 𝐝𝐞𝐬 𝐦𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐬 𝐞𝐭 𝐝𝐞𝐬 𝐩𝐨𝐬𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐞𝐬. 𝐋'𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐞𝐮𝐫-𝐝𝐚𝐧𝐬𝐞𝐮𝐫 𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐥𝐞 𝐧𝐚𝐫𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐮𝐫, a Storyteller, we would say; at every moment he identifies with the successive characters he brings to life. Between each narration, he dances! And her dance is elegant and vigorous.

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Today we know 𝐭𝐫𝐨𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐲𝐩𝐞𝐬 𝐝𝐞 𝐓𝐡𝐮𝐥𝐥𝐚𝐥:

1️⃣ 𝐋'𝐎𝐭𝐭𝐚𝐧 𝐓𝐡𝐮𝐥𝐥𝐚𝐥 is the 𝐩𝐥𝐮𝐬 𝐩𝐨𝐩𝐮𝐥𝐚𝐢𝐫𝐞. The costume is particularly impressive. The chest is decorated with different types of colorful beads, glass and garlands. Bells are attached just above the calf. The face is painted green, the lips are reddened and the eyes outlined in black. The themes of Ottan Thullal are generally heroic and the dance follows a spirited tempo.

2️⃣ The 𝐒𝐞𝐞𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐤𝐚𝐧 𝐓𝐡𝐮𝐥𝐥𝐚𝐥 presents another side. The songs are a little slower and the dance more internalized. The costume is embellished with ornaments made from pieces of coconut. Make-up is limited to darkening the eye area.

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3️⃣ The 𝐏𝐚𝐫𝐚𝐲𝐚𝐧 𝐓𝐡𝐮𝐥𝐥𝐚𝐥 follows an even slower tempo. He stands almost exclusively and translates the meaning of the chants and recitatives through gestures and pantomime. The themes are closer to everyday life. There are few elements of dance or action. The costume is also different, more sober. The face is painted in light yellow.

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🎉 At the beginning of the 𝐚𝐧𝐧é𝐞𝐬 𝟗𝟎, the 𝐌𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐚𝐩𝐚 a 𝐢𝐧𝐯𝐢𝐭é 𝐮𝐧 𝐩𝐞𝐭𝐢𝐭 𝐠𝐫𝐨𝐮𝐩𝐞 𝐝'𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐬 𝐝𝐞 𝐓𝐡𝐮𝐥𝐥𝐚𝐥, 𝐜'é𝐭𝐚𝐢𝐭 𝐥𝐚 𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐦𝐢è𝐫𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐢𝐬!
Unfortunately, we have never seen one since in France….

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👉 And you, have you ever attended a Thullal show?

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(From the archives of Eliane Béranger)

# 5 Did you know?

The Thullal

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