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Traditional dance from Guadeloupe

The so-called "traditional" dance in Guadeloupe actually comes from Kathakali, a passionate and imaginative dramatic dance from Kerala, a state on the coast  South-west India. According to tradition, all dancers are men. They wear elaborate costumes and make-up like masks that make this style of classical dance the most spectacular in the country. The actors embody   the characters of Gods and demons from the Puranas and the Mahabarata.  Poetry is combined with dance and music to evoke moving stories of legend and mythology.

This style originated from various classical and popular forms of dramatic entertainment. The training is very rigorous and disciplined. Each muscle and each joint  of the body must be trained in order to achieve perfect control of the movement.

The decor of this dance remains very simple, however: it is a curtain, "  the sheet or tèlè" held by two characters on the stage and a stool or bench, serving seat for the dancer's entrance on stage. It took place on the ground, under a coconut leaf arbor or in a "sabbe", a space delimited in a semicircle using bamboo. It is a “Vattyar” or vatialou, who leads this dance, accompanied by his musicians and responders called “chantè-poulè”

The make-up is stylized in such a way as to distinctly mark the hero, the anti-heroes, the demons of the story (or nadron) in question (Ram Nadron, Dessingou Nadron, Madourai Virin Nadron…), and is governed by very strict conventions .

The dancers wear full skirts "le sèlè" and weapons such as swords and masks during the combat sequences. The head is decorated with the "moudî or guilguidon" and a headdress, the whole of which is called
“the Nare”; The steps are punctuated by the sound of the “sélingguès” bells attached to the ankles.
It was in 1854 that this dance landed in Guadeloupe with our ancestors, and that the ACGAI (the Guadeloupian Cultural Association of Friends of India) has maintained since the opening of its dance school in 1987. It is present in all the major shows of the Association, in Guadeloupe and outside Guadeloupe. 

However, at the Association's dance school, we have also introduced the classical, modern and popular dances of India, such as: Odissi, Kathak, Bharata-Natyam, mahua, Bangrah, to which Bollywood is added.


Chantal Doulayram
(Indian dance teacher)




Linda SITCHARN        (Professeur de danse Indienne)_cc781905-5cde-3194-bb3b -136bad5cf58d_

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