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Kannan's Ottan Thullal performance for Claire & Party during their Kerala tour

Updated: Nov 17, 2023

Ottan Thullal is a traditional dance and theatrical art form from the Indian state of Kerala. It was created by the Malayalam poet and philosopher Kunchan Nambiar in the 18th century. Ottan Thullal is a form of solo dance drama that combines elements of dance, music, and storytelling.


Kannan is an Ottan Thullal artist and performs across various stages in Kerala. We found him very interesting and his ability to take the audience for a beautiful experience. The colour, the drama, the music everything together gives a great treat to our guests. At Green Earth Trails, tt has been years that we have been having Kannan with us and performing Ottan Thullal for small groups. This is all about a very close interaction with a beautiful art form and its artist, all from Kerala. And most times, this becomes the most iconic and memorable experience of the whole their whole trip in Kerala or South India.


Ottan Thullal is known for its vibrant and expressive movements, and the artist may use local dialect and colloquial language to connect with the audience. It is often performed at temple festivals, cultural events, and other occasions in Kerala and continues to be a significant part of the state's cultural heritage. The art form combines humor, music, and dance to tell stories and entertain the audience, making it an integral part of Kerala's artistic traditions.


The name "Ottan Thullal" can be broken down into two parts: "Ottan," which refers to the performer's character, and "Thullal," which means "dance" or "to jump." This name reflects the lively and energetic nature of the performance. In Ottan Thullal, a single performer, the Ottan, dons a unique costume and makeup and narrates stories, often based on mythological or historical themes, with a combination of humor and satire. The stories are typically drawn from Kerala's rich folklore and mythology. The artist often engages with audience, mimics them and portrays comedy bringing out laughter.


Compared to the more elaborate and time-consuming makeup and costumes of some other classical Indian dance forms like Kathakali, Ottan Thullal uses simpler and more accessible costumes and makeup, which makes it an engaging and enjoyable art form for a wide audience.


Being a Kerala tour operator, we believe, it is these little extra ordinary experiences that make our tour program exclusive and out of the ordinary. And we encourage other tour operators from Kerala to take inspiration from us and promote local art and culture. It gives an opportunity for the sons of the soil to perform and showcase themselves to the world.

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