Kathakali is the classical dance form of Kerala. The word Kathakali literally means "Story-Play". Kathakali is known for its heavy, elaborate makeup and costumes. In fact, the colorful and fascinating costumes of Kathakali have become the most recognized icon of Kerala. Kathakali is considered as one of the most magnificent theatres of imagination and creativity. Kathakali dance presents themes derived from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and other Hindu epics, mythologies and legends.
The dance aspect of Kathakali consists of pure dance (nritya) as well as mime (abhinaya). Initially Kathakali was thought to be the sole domain of men but now women also perform the dance. Like all other dance forms Kathakali has also undergone changes over the time.
In Kathakali emphasis is given more on aharya abhinaya, the use of costumes, ornaments and facial make-up. It is interesting to note that Kathakali is the only Indian dance form in which the entire body, both skeleton and muscles, down to even the smallest facial muscle are used to portray emotion.