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Kannur, India - December 07, 2011: Kathakali dancer performing at the Muthappan Temple.
Kathakali is a traditional art form of Kerala, south India. It takes the form of classical dance drama when stories from Hindu religious text are mimed to music and percussion instruments. Words are not spoken during the performances. Kathakali artists have many years of rigorous training. During performances artists adorn elaborate costumes and body/facial make-up. Both male and female roles are played only by males. Performances can last many hours. Traditionally there are 101 classical Kathakali stories, though the commonly staged among them these days total less than one-third that number. Almost all of them were initially composed to last a whole night. Nowadays, there is increasing popularity for concise, or oftener select, versions of stories so as the performance lasts not more than three to four hours from evening. Thus, many stories find stage presentation in parts rather than totality. And the selection is based on criteria like choreographical beauty, thematic relevance/popularity or their melodramatic elements. This photograph shows a Kathakali performer during a show inside the Muthappan Temple in Parassinkkadavu village near Kannur, Kerala, India