India | Kerala

Chavittu Nadakam

A dance-drama

Chavittu Nadakam is a Christian art form performed in parts of south India. This dance drama is very popular in the state of Kerala. Its history begins with arrival of the Portuguese to the Malabar shores.

This drama has an interesting history to tell. When the Portuguese came to Kerala, they felt emptiness in their cultural arena. They required a medium to spread the myths and the legends, which they held in reverence. They were impressed with Kathakali, but their inflated feeling did not allow them to graft their legends on it. Thus they created a distinctive dance drama of their own and named it as Chavittu Nadakam.

Chavittu Nadakam is usually performed on open stages. Sometimes the interior of a church is also a location. The performers wear Greco-Roman costumes and even the stage props bear several foreign influences. The actors sing their lines loudly with exaggerated sign. The language used is a colloquial blend of Tamil and Malayalam.

A peculiar feature of this drama art is the actors pounding (stamping or Chavittu) the dance floor producing resonant sounds to emphasize the dramatic situations. Hence literally Chavittu Nadakam means 'Stamping Drama'. The play is considered a success if at the end, the stage cave into the pressure of heavy stamping.

Updated on 21st September, 2014


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