Yakshagana is a form of classical folk theatre which originated in South India.
Evolved from the Bhakti movement, it is extremely popular in the coastal regions of Karnataka.
Like many other art forms, Yakshagana can be classified into folk, classical and rural.
It has a more dynamic approach towards dancing.
The act consists of a himmela (background music group) and a mummela (dance and dialog group), who perform Yakshagana poetry together.
Himmela consist of a Bhagawata singer who is also the director (also called the first actor, modalane vesha), maddale, harmonium for drone (pungi was used earlier) and chend (loud drums).
The music is based on Carnatic ragas characterised by melodic patterns called Mattu and Yakshagana Tala.
This particular art form is gaining rapid popularity in Bangalore.
A Yakshagana performance usually begins at the twilight hours with the beating of several fixed compositions on drums called abbara or peetike for up to an hour before the actors get o n the stage.
The actors wear resplendent costumes and headdresses.
The performance usually depicts a story from Indian epic poems and the Puranas.
It consists of a narrator (Bhagvatha) who either narrates the story by singing or sings prepared character dialogues, backed by musicians playing on traditional musical instruments as the actors dance to the music, with actions that portray the story as it is being narrated.
All the components of Yakshagana, music, dance and dialog are improvised.
Depending on the ability of the actors, variation in dance and amount of dialogues may change.
It is not uncommon for actors to get into philosophical debates or arguments without going out of the framework of the character being enacted.
All the stories told in Yakshagana are based on mythological characters.
It usually depicts tales from Indian epics.
There are philosophical messages hidden in most of the stories too.
Actors usually get into meaningful debates without surpassing the framework of the character being enacted.
In fact, noted writer, Late Dr Kota Shivaram Karanth experimented with the dance form by introducing several features including Western musical instruments.
He also reduced the time of a Yakshagana performance from twelve hours to two and half hours, for the convenience of city dwellers.
Also, the introduction of Yakshagana to Western plays titled Orientations and Dis-Orientations (Border Crossings) by Radhakrishna Urala too revolutionised this dance form.
The plays fused traditional elements of Indian art with Western theatre