TRIBAL DANCE
       

The primitive inhabitants of Kerala, the tribal people, are only about two hundred thousand now and they are scattered in the jungles and hills of Malabar, Kochi and Travancore. There are about 35 different type of the tribals, chief among them being the Kurichiyar Nayadi, Mullakurumbar, Uralikurumber, Paniya, Mudaga, Irula, Ernadar, Kadar, Muthuvan, Kanikkar, Uralees, Paliyan, Malavedan, Vettuvar, Eravallan, Veda And Malayan. Centuries have failed to change them completely. They are unique example of communities in isolated existence, still preserving their life, customers and manners almost untarnished by the advancing waves of urban civilization. Though adapted to different dialects and customs, their artistic expression evidently reflects the distinct, secluded and primitive social structure and nature of people and it still survives as virile as state as ever in the tribal hamlets of the hilly tracts.

Each of these aboriginal tribes has its own distinct dance traditions and invariably all of them are interwoven with the life of the people who dance it, so much so that it seems that some of their daily tasks are given to rhythmic pattern. In the background of mysteryshrouded nature, tribal celebrations originate and the dances which work up intoxicating excitement physical expression of their joy and griefs, hopes and fears.

TRIBAL DANCES
ELELAKKARADI
KAADAR NRITHAM
KURUMBAR NRITHAM
KAANIKKAR NRITHAM
PANIYAR KALI
EDAYA NRITHAM
PARVALLI KALI
KOORAN KALI
THAVALA KALI
NAIKAR KALI
MUDIYATTOM
MAN KALI ,GADHIKA

In some cases dancing is extremely simple and consists of little more than meaningless shuffling of the feet or waving of the hands. At other times it is more swaying of the body to the clapping of hands or beating of primitive drums to mark time. Yet another forms shows only the monotonous movement of the hands and feet. But, generally speaking, a wide range of movement involving all parts of the body, the head, back hips, arms, fingers and the feet and even facial muscles are utilised in tribal dances.

There are very complicated tribal dances as well in which dancing harmonises gesture, expressing the whole gamut of sentiment, where rhythm is kept by swaying the body and intricate steps executed with adept foot work. Usually the dances having the slow beginning, but gather momentum and work up to a heavy tempo of the vociferous climax of the drums, and the ecstacy of the ever - mounting rhythm of spontaneous music. Many of these dances are heroic or martial in character.

Some tribes have songs to accompany where dances. Either the dancers themselves sings or the on - lookers sings and thus participate. Special musical instruments are sometimes used, but the drum is almost an indispensable feature. The customs of the dancers vary from approximate nudity to full attire and ornaments which are extremely colourful and gaudy.

Like all tribal arts, Keralas tribal dances also are unselfconscious and spontaneous. It is the most direct expression of the innermost spirit of a people and the instinct of rhythm is as natural and basic as human nature. (Next...)