PRAKRITI 4.0 - Kerala Kalamandalam

Since 2019, CFAA has been presenting an annual South Asian Dance Festival under the theme of Prakriti – The Nature. The purpose of this festival is to create awareness on the challenges of climate change through performing arts originated in South Asia.

The innaugral one Yaathra, in 2019, held in person, at the East middle school in Aurora in the Arapahoe county brought together 3 distinct dance forms – Bharathanatyam, Kuchipudi and Kathak. 

In 2020, we took the festival online due to the COVID-19 pandemic and presented about 100 major artists each in the professional and amateur categories in 10 distinct artforms.

Due to the immense success of this format and presentation, in 2021, we continued this to go in depth as opposed to breadth we attempted in 2020. We took 6 dance forms, identified 6 marquee artists and presented 1 full length performance each.

In 2022, as part of the natural evolution, we have gone to 1 venerable institution in the world that practices unique artforms and put together a thematic performance of 3+ hours.


When  : Starting Nov 19th, 2022, 6:00 PM MST (Nov 20th, 2022, 6:30 AM IST)

Where: CFAA YouTube Channel 



Panchari Melam is performed during temple festivals in the Kerala state of India. Panchari is a six-beat thaalam with equivalents like Roopakam in south Indian Carnatic music and Daadra in the northern Hindustani classical music. Panchari Melam is one of the major forms of Chenda Melam and is the most popular temple music genre.

This comprises 5 instruments the primary one being Mizhavu

Other supporting instruments are Chenda, Elathalam, Kombu and Kuzhal

Ottam Thullal


Thullal, an art form nearly 300 years old, which yet continues to throb with vitality and vigor in the cultural history of Kerala. A solo performance combining dance, music, acting and narration. The performer enacts all the characters of the story. Humor, satire and social criticism are the hallmarks of this art form. The most mundane subjects are presented steeped in humor, thus often satirizing society’s evil ways. There are three types of Thullal viz., Ottan Thullal, Seethankan Thullal and Parayan Thullal. They differ mainly in costumes and style.




Kathakali has borrowed generously from extant forms of classical, folk and ritual arts.For its theatrical content, Kathakali owes a lot to kutiyattam, the sole surviving sanskrit theatre tradition in India. For its intricate, intriguing and colourful Make-up and costuming, Kathakali is highly indebted to Kalamezhuthu(floral drawing) in the Bhagawathi temples Theyyam and Mudiyett, the folk-ritual traditions.

The body-exercises in this dance-theatre tradition are an adaptaion from Kalaripayatt (tradition martial art of Kerala).The vocal and instrumental music of Kathakali is a definite inspiration from the indigenous singing and drumming tradition in the Hindhu temples. Of all the traditional temple arts now in vogue, Kathakali commands universal appreciation and recognition for it is the cnfluence of dance,theatre,music-vocal and instrumental.With the synchronization between the sights and sounds at optimum level, Kathakali has been hailed as the zenith of Thauryatrika. Kathakali is till date the most dynamic of all the traditional art forms which primarily lie in its capacity and flexibility to gather influences from the extant classical, folk and ritual heritages.


Chaakyar Koothu



Koothu is an art form in which the stories of Hindu mythology and epics are orally rendered primarily with the support of acting and hand gestures. In the olden days, it was confined to temple premises. Only the members of the Chakyar community performed this art form and hence the name Chakyar Koothu. This was performed in temple theatres called Koothambalam.


In Chakyar Koothu the entire story is presented by a single performer. The costumes are that of a court jester. Facial make-up is done with rice powder, turmeric powder and black powder. He wears an ornament in one ear and a betel leaf in the other. An accompanying artist plays the percussion instrument Mizhavu in the background.


The highlights of Chakyar Koothu, is satire, social criticism, humor and related stories or episodes presented during the performance. In the olden days of royalty, the Chakyar had the right to criticise even the King and his acts while performing. The practice was that the audience should listen to the Chakyar and accept his criticisms. Any opposition to comments made by the Chakyar while performing would have led to an end in the performance of the art form in that premises for ever.




As the sole extant form of traditional Sanskrit theater in India, Koodiyattam literally means Combined Acting. Through the fourfold concept of acting dealt with in the Natyasastra namely Angika (movements of the body & the limbs), Vachika (verbal acting), Satwika (emotive acting) and Aharya (make-up & costuming), excerpts from the well known Sanskrit plays of Sree Harsha, Neelakanta, Bhasa, Kulasekhara Varman, Bodhayana and others are presented on stage. The first stage-performance of Kutiyattam to go with the reliable evidence dates back to 10th -11th century when the king Kulasekhara Varman (who ruled parts of the present day Kerala) composed two plays, Subhadradhananjayam and Tapatisamvaranam.

It is strongly believed by the practitioners of Koodiyattam and by a section of scholars that Tolan, a great humorist and scholar, guided Kulasekhara Varman in the choreography of the plays paving the way for a highly impressive stage performance with Vidooshaka in the lead role along with other protagonists. The plays that are in vogue in Kutiyattam are Mathavilasom, Kalyanasaugandhikam, Balivadhom etc. Kuttu which is primarily a verbal discourse by an erudite as well as witty Chakyar has three divisions viz. Adiyanthira kuttu (ritual performance), Vazhipadukuttu (votive offering) and Kazhchakuttu (plays meant as entertainment)

Mazhayoli (Mohiniyattam & Kathakali Ensemble Program)


There is no precise historical evidence to establish the antiquity of Mohiniyaattam, the classical female dance-tradition of Kerala.


Probably it was evolved in the eighteenth century. In the court of king Swathi Thirunal who ruled Travancore (SouthKerala) in the 19th century Mohiniyaattam flourished along with Bharatanatyam, the classical dance of Tamil Nadu. The post -Swathy period witnessed the downfall of Mohiniyaattam. ‘The dance of the enchantress’ slipped into eroticism to satisfy the epicurean-life of some provincial satraps and feudal lords. Poet Vallathol Narayana Menon rescued Mohiniyaattam form total extinction. It was added to the curriculum of Kalamandalam in 1930.


The make-up and dressing of Mohiniyaattam is simple and semi-realistic. The dancer’s face is made up of yellow and pink-paste. She wears sandal-colored jacket and sari. Jasmin flowers adorn her tied-up hair. She decorates her eyes with kajal and the lips are reddened. The traditional theme of Mohiniyaattam is devotion to and love of God. Vishnu or Krishna is more often the hero. This dance-form explores all the subtleties of the expression, Sringara, in all the items performed. We feel his invisible presence when the heroine or her friend (Sakhi) portrays him through hand-gestures, soft, undulating and circular body movements.