Chavittunadakam : Stomping Operatic Dance Drama

chavittunadagamChavittunadakam is an Indo-European musical dance drama that is acclaimed as a typical Latin Christian folk art form of Cochin believed to have originated in the16th century, with the influence of Portuguese missionaries. While resembling European opera, it also incorporates the martial arts traditions of the Kerala coast. The predominant feature of this colourful dramatic opera is the artists stomping the dance floor producing resonant sounds to accentuate the dramatic element. Performers wearing glittering European costumes sing their lines loudly and with exaggerated gestures stomp with great force on the wooden stage. Hence literally Chavittunadakam means ‘stomping drama’. Great stress is laid on the step, which goes in harmony with the songs. In these art forms there is a great importance for dance and art. Foot stomping dance, fighting and fencing are the essential part of Chavittunadakam.
The language used is a colloquial blend of Tamil and Malayalam. The stories are mostly the heroic episodes of great Christian warriors. Historical incidents, the life and adventure of heroes the Frankish King Charlemagne and Alexander the Great are narrated. Carelman Charitham (Charlemagne the Great), Brijeena Charitham (Life of Queen Brijeena), St. Sebastian, Daveedhum Goliyathum (David and Goliath), Mahanaya Alexander (Alexander the Great), and Veerayodhakkalude Anthyam (Death of Great warriors) are some of the most notable titles.