Yakshagana is another famous folk art of
south India. It began as a ballad singing art form in the olden days, but
later on it was transformed into a dance drama form. The mention of
Yahshagana is found in Bheemakhanda, a 15th century literary work by
It was popularly known as Bahunatakas and later assumed a definite form of Yakshagana. It got its name after the "Yakshas" or "Jakkulas" who practised singing and dance. Initially a single dancer performed this dance, but gradually it evolved into a complete dramatic form with many characters by the 17-18th century.
The structure of the Yakshagana form underwent a lot of changes with the passage of time. It had different themes from mythological, historical to secular. The classical Kuchipudi dance adopted some of these literary productions into their repertoire. Seasoned artists with an aim to save this dance form from extinction decided to give a new life and introduced new themes and a strong story line that would make this form more alluring.
As the name itself suggests, the heart of Yakshagana is 'Gaana'. In many cases, the scripts of Yakshagana plays are written first for their musical value and only then for their literary worth. The music style is a blend of folk and Carnatic, but more influenced by Carnatic devoid of its familiar frills and trills.