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Home » South india » Karnataka » Dance and music » Yakshagana Dance
Karnataka Places to see YAKSHAGANA DANCE

At a glance :


Major themes : Warfare & Fights.


Dance of : Karnataka.


Derived From : South Canara.


Karnataka state is a region that is attached to the original culture of that land. People of Karnataka state consider culture as their path to live life. They follow the traditional cultural path in the current modern time. Dance is a prime part of this state's colorful and energetic life; the dance forms which you see at Karnataka state, cannot be found anywhere else. Every religious and spiritual occasion of Karnataka state is related to the different dance forms. Yaksha Gana dance form of Karnataka is more of a drama performance which has been practiced in front of the rural people through the amateur but professional actors. This dance originated in Karnataka itself, but in rural Karnataka. This dance form is a fine blend of drama and dance. The heart of this dance form is its music. The dance form is around four hundred years old. In the performance of Yakshgana dance, they use regional Kannada Language and the Hindu epic's themes are majorly used by the leader of the Yakshgana dance. Another prime factor of the Yakshgana is attire, their costumes are very similar to the Kathakali dance form and the pattern of this dance also looks similar to the Kathakali dance. As specified in Natya Shastra, Yakshgana dance form has various characters such as Vidushaka, Suthra Dhara. The name Yaksha Gana came after the Yakshgana music form. In fact, Yaksha Gana dance is inspired by  Bharata's theatre, in the manner of acting 'Abhinaya'. Till now you will get to see it in street plays of the Tamil, Nritya or Abhinaya have presented it in extreme amount within the Yaksha Gana form.


At present, it has decreased a lot, because of the expressive speech. That's why it makes it different from Malabar's Kathakali and added variety in the Tamil's dance forms. If you will observe the Tamil play, the entire theme of the play is narrated through the verses and songs. As per the occasion there are prose lines that are chorus such as communicating with audiences.Kattiyakkaran speaks. the way Yaksh Gana dance has been developed, at present it has moved towards a modern style drama, in which they added many prose dialogues that are presented by the characters of play. During the performance, when the characters stop speaking, the musical background starts, at that time the characters act in the Nautch and Kathkali manner. Yaksh Gana's drama themes are inspired by warfare and fights like raudra and veera belong to the historical legends. Keech Vadha or Virata-Parva, Draupadi pratapa, Karna Arjuna Yaddha, Bhishma Vijaya, Atikayavada etc are some more Yaksh Gana dramas; all these themes are war and fight oriented. The characters of Yaksh Gana howl and are vigorous in the strange attires. The beginning of the drama is always done by loud beaten music and raudra & veera all these expressions are played successfully in this ambience. The devil's make up and the dangerous character's make up are always contrast with the atmosphere and theme. Draupadi Pratapa play is always very strong, the scenes of this play are very amazing and powerful, and these factors create a good climax of play. The Kali and Chandi manifested in fabulous costumes. There is a scene in Bhishma Vijaya play of Lasya, in this scene the princesses take a bath, express love among  Mohini & King Rukmangada. But the existing atmosphere is of Arabhati Vritti, in a strong manner.


In the Yaksha Gana dance form, as per the theme of the play, the make up is also very important. The make up which is ued on the characters give a very richer, graceful and expressive look to the entire drama. The ornamentation is also used in the make up of Yaksha Gana as per Indian sculpture, but it is not used in the make up of Kathkali. The main characters like son of hero and hero or minister of king and king get the beautiful Makuta and the rest of the characters, which are considered to belong from the Dhirodatta and Maha Purusha, all these have make up in the uniform type with Kataka, Bhujakirti, Virakaccha etc, The wild character's head dress Dhiroddhatas in various forms. The villain & Prati Nayaka, Asuras, Rakshasas have been manifested in the very strange costumes of Yaksha Gana. Their head dress Mukuta is very huge, made of wood; bump with glass and some more factors are similar to the headgear of Kathakali dance form. The Bhishma, Yama, King salva, Mahishasura and Ravana all these manifest the Atikayavadha dress. The face of the dancers are always masked, the lips colored in red . The size of the nose gets enhanced by the white matter; they put 2 carnivorous teeth, huge locks in hair which hangs on he back side of the actor's strange dresses. There is a matching dress for women, Kali and Chandi and Atikayavadha's Surpanaka manifested they also use the teeth of Lion, red blood tongue haggard out, huge blocks of hair and big breasts etc. by using strange make up.


Each and every character of the Yaksh Gana wear trousers, to get ease while dancing and over that trouser they tie a saree in a Kaccha form and over that they also wear girdle ornaments. The characters of prince and King get a rosy paint, the green face used for the King Bali, blue color for Krishna & Vishnu and black for the Yama. The hunters are portrayed by the few plays such as Bhishma vijaya and Rukmangada, they attach few green twigs to represent the forest people.

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