There are more than fifty well-known folk dances in Kerela. Of them the Kaliyattom, Mudiyettu, Kolam Thullal,Padayani, Kolkali, Parichamuttukali, Thappukali, Kuravarkali, and Thiruvathirakali are the most popular.
MudiyettuAmong the ancient and indigenous performing art forms in Kerala are the ritual dances known as Mudiyettu, associated with the Goddess Bhagavathi, the wife of Lord Siva.. These dance forms glorify the goddess and their themes revolve around the triumph of the goddess over the demon Daruka and other evil characters.
Theyyam or KaliyattamTheyyam other wise known as kaliyattom, is an ancient socio-religious ceremony performed in Kerala since very remote times. socio-religious ceremony performed in Kerala since very remote times. As the word kaliyattom denotes this is a sacred dance performance for kali. Kaliyattom is sometimes called Theyyattom because every thera or village was duly bound to perform it. In ancient times every village of Kerala has its own common shrine called Kavu and it was imperative to have kaliyattom performed in front of it. As the word kali has also the meaning of safety in Malayalam, Kaliyattom may have the significance of a sacred dance for social or family safety.
ThiruvathirakaliKaikottikali, also known as Thiruvathirakali is a very popular symmetric group of dance by the women of kerala, and is often performed during the festive season of Onam.
KolkaliIs a mixed dance in which both men and women participate. The performers move in a circle, stricking small sticks and keeping rhythm with special steps.
MamangamThis huge and wonderful festival is a replication of the cultural extravaganza that used to be held every 12 years by the Zamorins (ancient rulers of Kozhikode) in the middle ages
ParichamuttukaliThis is martial folk dance, which had its origin during the days when Kalaripayattu, the famous physical exercise of swordplay and defence was in vogue in Kerala.
PatakamThis art form is very similar to Koothu on gestures and movements, but the narration is through prose and song sequences.
PoothamkaliA folk art also known as Poothanum Thirayam was commonly performed in the Bhagavathy temples of Malappuram & Palakkad. Pootham is the character that accompanied Durga in her combat with Darika.
Thappu-melakkaliThis is a group of dance of the Parayas of Malappuram district in which the dancers strike rhythm on a small drum.
Kuravar KaliKuravar belong to the former untouchable class of people who were not permitted to enter the precincts of temples. The Kuravarkali dance is usually performed outside the temple walls in connection with festivals.
Kolam ThullalThis is a ritual offering usually performed to get rid pf the troubles caused by evil-sprits.
KaalavelaThis is a folk art, noted for the procession of huge, colorfully decorated images of bulls.
OppanaA Muslim bridal group dance performed the day before the wedding day.
MahayanaThis colorful ritual art is symbolic of the victory march of goddess Kali after she defeated the demon Darika. The art form has some resemblance to Theyyam.