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Through symbolism, traditional underpinnings, and various movements of the human body, dance speaks a language that can be translated universally and interpreted openly by people who allow themselves to be subjected to it. Baroque dance, Kathakali, and contemporary dance each lend aspects to the ways in which performance art can reach out to an audience. I enjoyed each performance in specific ways and individually interpreted their moral ideas, costume significance, and cultural revelations. Though each type of dance carried wildly different components, they shared common threads in efficient communication and educational enlightenment that I appreciated observing.

One of the first elements that captivated me while watching the Kathakali performance was the actor’s enthusiasm and method with each gesture he exhibited. He seemed very focused with the yelps he released and his facial expressions, especially pertaining to anger and shock over the princess. The way in which a dance drama portrays a story in Kathakali is completely different from how the Western world would approach it. American choreographed dance relies on body flexibility, large arm and leg motions, and occasionally dramatic singing to accompany a plotline. Kathakali, in contrast, is subtle in its approach to describe stories; rhythmic hand gestures and implied symbols are the prime narrators in a performance. One aspect of the dance that I found particularly interesting is the usage of mudras, which I imagine to be a communicatory device that unifies audience members in performances in Kerala. Several parts of the performance, like the initial blanket unveiling, puzzled me but enhanced my interest the Indian culture that I know so little about. I only wish that the performance took place in a different setting; I felt like a lot of obstacles like the location in which we saw it, technical difficulties, and the open atmosphere made it seem less personal and more difficult to involve myself in.

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