Rasoham Kutty Kutchery Festival : Kattaikoothu / Therukoothu – Traditional Tamil Folk Dance Performance by Thilagavathi Palani – the First female Kattaikoothu Artiste at Medai, Chennai / Exploring the History, Elements, and Costumes of Kattaikoothu / Therukoothu

a dance form with a captivating blend of drama, music, & dance

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Rasoham’s Kutty Kutchery Festival: Kattaikoothu / Therukoothu – Traditional Tamil Folk Dance Performance by Thilagavathi Palani – the First female Kattaikoothu Artiste at Medai, Chennai / Exploring the History, Elements, and Costumes of Kattaikoothu / Therukoothu (Updated)

– a dance form with a captivating blend of drama, music, & dance

CasualWalker’s Rating for Rasoham’s Kutty Kutchery Festival – Kattaikoothu / Therukoothu Performance :

9.8 – Superb Awesome

 

The Kutty Kutchery Festival, a celebration of classical, folk, and theatre arts, is curated by Shri Laasya Narasimhachari, the Founder and Creative Director of Rasoham and the esteemed disciple of renowned dance gurus Shri Narasimhachari and Shri Vasanthalakshmi, wh0 brings a wealth of artistic heritage to her role, guiding Rasoham in its mission to celebrate and preserve the diverse traditions of classical and folk arts.

Rasoham’s Kutty Kutchery Festival

This vibrant Kutty Kutchery Festival unfolds across various venues in Chennai, featuring diverse genres of traditional art forms presented by well-known artists. At Medai, Chennai, the festival showcased a mesmerizing performance of Kattaikkoothu/Therukoothu, a traditional Tamil folk dance form, led by Shri Thilagavathi Palani and her troupe. This captivating rendition unfolded over two hours, delving into a small yet powerful segment of the epic Mahabharata.

Shri Laasya Narasimhachari, the Founder and Creative Director of Rasoham

 

Kattaikkoothu / Therukoothu, performance led by Shri Thilagavathi Palani and her troupe

 

Kattaikoothu: The Dance of Wooden Narratives

Kattaikoothu, also known as Therukoothu, is a traditional street theater and dance form hailing from the cultural heartland of Tamil Nadu. This captivating blend of drama, music, and dance unfolds in the open air, intricately weaving tales that resonate with the pulse of rural communities.

The term “Kattaikoothu” is derived from “Kattai,” symbolizing wood, and “Koothu,” representing dance. Rooted in age-old traditions, this unique art form traces its origins to a time when performers adorned themselves with wooden ornaments, adding a distinctive flair to their presentations. Beyond mere entertainment, Kattaikoothu serves as a powerful cultural mirror, reflecting the traditions, beliefs, and social dynamics of its origins.

History of Kattaikoothu or Therukoothu

The roots of Kattaikoothu/Therukoothu can be traced back to ancient Tamil Nadu, where it emerged as a vibrant form of storytelling engaging and educating the masses. Literally translating to ‘street play,’ Therukoothu historically found its stage in rural villages during temple festivals, fairs, and other community events. Its origins lie deeply embedded in the cultural and religious fabric of the region, evolving as a dynamic art form that encapsulates the spirit of the people.

With its origins rooted in the worship of village deities, Therukoothu served as a vehicle for conveying moral and ethical stories, often drawn from the rich tapestry of Indian epics such as the great Ramayana and Mahabharata. These performances weren’t just spectacles; they were communal experiences fostering a sense of unity and shared identity among the audience.

Over centuries, Therukoothu has transformed, adapting to changing times while retaining its core essence. The vibrant costumes, energetic dance movements, and soul-stirring music continue to be the hallmarks of this art form, resonating with audiences across generations. Today, Therukoothu stands as a living testament to the resilience of cultural heritage, bridging the gap between tradition and modernity on the open stages of Tamil Nadu’s streets.

Accompanied by three different instruments – Harmonium, Mridangam, and Mukavinai – and two Talams, the performances also feature background singers.

Traditionally involving an ensemble of approximately 15 to 18 skilled actors and musicians, Kattaikoothu unfolds in an overnight performance at a designated space. With wooden accessories as integral parts of the performers’ attire, it weaves compelling narratives, enchanting audiences with its unique blend of storytelling and artistic expression.

 

Shri Thilagavathi Palani’s Kattaikoothu Troupe

The award-winning Shri Thilagavathi Palani and Troupe showcased Kattaikkuttu as part of Rasoham’s Kutty Kutchery Festival. Despite being a male-dominated rural theater form in Tamil Nadu, Shri Thilagavathi Palani emerged as an early woman pioneer in this field.

A powerful artist and a name to reckon with, Shri Thilagavathi Palani’s journey was not without challenges. Hailing from the small village of Kalavaikootroad near Vellore, she learned her craft from Shri Rajagopal.

The main performances usually draw inspiration from episodes of the Mahabharata, such as Draupadi’s marriage, her vastra haran, Krishna’s stories, and similar narratives from the Ramayana and Shiva and Parvati’s marriage.

While traditionally men played all roles, the entrance of women has broadened the scope, enabling them to portray both male and female characters. Palani is most celebrated for her role as Kurathi.

 

Overall the Kattaikoothu performance by Thilagavathi Palani at Rasoham’s Kutty Kutchery Festival provided a captivating journey into the rich cultural heritage of Tamil folk dance. As the rhythmic beats and expressive movements came to life on the stage, it became evident that Kattaikoothu Therukoothu is not just a dance, it’s a living testament to the cultural diversity and artistic legacy embedded in the heart of our tradition.

 

 

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