What is Koothu (Kuthu) Street Dance?

Posted on 1st July 2021under Uncategorised

The Theru Koothu – Transcending time

Indian culture has an exceptionally complex family framework, classes, ethnic gatherings, and groups that have not completely developed out of the profound relationship of the social culture. This accentuates the solid connections the Indian culture has with the past. This part of social interminability is perceivable in our frames of mind and taboos, notwithstanding the acknowledgement of present-day developments.

Subsequently, the people’s expressions like the folklores have been utilised for religious, moral, and socio-political purposes in India since ages. The qualities, dispositions, convictions, and culture of the individuals are engendered, fortified, and propagated through these social practises like the folklores. In this way, the indigenous folklores save and scatter in an exuberant way, the custom and culture of our ancestors, since they are profoundly established in the social standard.

Origin of Street plays:

Earlier days, man used his ability in society expressions and theatres as a method of diversion, as well as a media to express their feelings and necessities. The street arts, which were initially done to please people, were later transformed into theatrical/stage performances. These stage plays have plunged into street arts, which were then used to describe the day-to-day issues of individuals. The street plays were initially very realistic and sensible and were without conventional makeup, outfits, and screens, and the characters were livelier. These were aimed to mainly communicate with people in a language and expression they understood. These street plays reached out to the nook and corners of the town or village. Most of the times, people got very good and really quick feedback, which was then implemented, and improvised versions were showed in their next performances.

The language utilised by these media was the regular figure of speech of the general public. Consequently, it was effectively fathomed by both the educated and the uneducated group of spectators. Subsequently, the dramatisations were well known from the medieval period, and they are being utilised as a decent media framework even today. The society shows arranged by the rustic troupes in every stage help in advancing mass correspondence.

What is Theru Kuthu?

In Tamil Nadu, the theru kuthu is the most popular mass media form to reach out to people. The theru koothu is basically the street performance, where the classical forms of literature like iyal, isai, and nadagam is brought together and performed as a single masterpiece. It is believed that the theru koothu is evolved from nondinagama and villu pattu. Just like the other Indian traditional folklore, the downright bafoonery and religious myths are pitched in and mixed freely, and various themes like Ramayana, Devadas, and Valli marriage are all performed. Seeing a clown or bafoon and god Ganesha is the mandate or common characters in almost all theru koothu dramas. This modus operandum seems to be slightly influenced by the art form of Kerala – Kathakali. Amateur actors, who make a small financial contribution to the troupe in order to be able to participate in the performance, generally perform Therukoothu.

Despite the fact that therukoothu is not as prominent as some other move types of the south, this type of dance and the play have gotten their very own appeal. Therukoothu has its very own mass intrigue. Since it is performed in the city, the individuals can identify it easily when contrasted with different types of moves which are performed on the stage. The Therukoothu plays are a mix of tune, music, moves, and dramatisation. Entertainers wear brilliant outfits. The melodic instruments utilised by the Therukoothu artists incorporate harmonium, drums, and cymbals.

Where does the beauty lie?

The magnificence of this type of dance or the therukoothu has had the option to bait the individuals living in outside nations likewise to go under its ambit. The narratives are gotten from the Puranas, the Mahabharata, and the Ramayana. Melodies prevail, while a great part of the discourse is ad-libbed. The troupe comprises 15 to 20 entertainers, who are good orators and dancers as well. The troupe also has a vocalist, and the instruments of a little ensemble orchestra that include drums, organs, and cymbals.

The majority of the songs are Carnatic (traditional music of South India) ragas. The therukoothu also has, like the conventional dramas and movies, a director (or kattiakaram), who is seen throughout the play. The bright makeup by the artistes and the props they use during the performances are all the distinct characters of a therukoothu. These attract people to watch the whole performance. A villain would have a mask or a colourful face, mostly in black colour; a Krishna will be in green, and so on.


Despite all these attractions and significance, there is a very glim side in the therukoothu. As the artists peel off their makeups and costumes, the harsh truth comes to the limelight. The therukoothu is one of the classical art forms of South India that is at the verge of dying. Due to the non-commercial approach, there are only a few supporters seen presently for this art form. However, the present-day youngsters are getting attracted to those forms, which have a commercial outreach. Regardless of these, it is essential to make the necessary efforts to spread this form of art across countries and make it popular as before.


  1. Mass Communication in India (4th Edition) By Keval J. Kumar
  2. https://disco.teak.fi/asia/therukoothu-the-street-theatre-of-tamilnadu/
  3. http://www.indiaheritagedesk.com/street-dance-of-the-south-therukoothu/
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koothu