Kolatam is a folk dance form, which dates
back to 7th century AD. It is known by different names in different
regions of the country, in Andhra
Pradesh it is known as Kolatam, 'Kolannalu' or 'Kol Kolannalu'. It
is performed with sticks and one can find evidences of this dance in
Both men and women perform it though evidences are found that women especially perform this dance. It is a rural art specially performed during village festivities, Kolatam is a lively combination of pleasing rhythmic movements and songs accompanied by music.
The Various Forms
A group of about 8 to 40 artists perform it led by a leader who initiates the dance. In a group there are several pairs of dancers, called 'Uddis' where one person initiates the strike with the stick and the other receives it. The dancers slowly move to form a circle.
'Jada Kolatam' is one of the popular forms of Kolatam performed in the villages. This special variety is performed by a group of 16 to 18 dancers who weave a plait, while playing on the sticks and making intricate movements. Ropes or thick ribbons are used to weave the plait and then unplait it before the song ends.
However, one of the most commonly performed numbers by the Kolatam artists is the 'Ganga-Gauri-Samvadam', depicting a duel between the two wives of Siva.
The performance contains several songs set in "Kopus" (angles). Each Kopu is different from the other in the movements the artists have to make - the foot works, the tilting of the body and other movements. Each song contains a beginning ('Ethugada'), a change of pace ('Usi') and a conclusion ('Muktayimpu'). Usually, the performance begins with an invocation to Lord Ganesha.
The costumes worn by the performer has become simpler in recent times as compared to the style of dressing in the olden days. He wears a tightly worn dhoti, a 'dhati', ankle bells, white shirts and a kerchief around the neck. The instruments used by the dancers are a harmonium, a flute, a 'mridangam' and sometimes a clarinet.