Theyam dancers, Kerala, 2006

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These two sketchbook entries were at an extraordinary Theyam festival near Tellicherry in North Kerala in December 2006. A group of dancers perform at a local temple (which are generally open air in balmy Kerala) They dance for up to three days… The one in the very top left sketch is sitting on a huge bed of roasting wood embers. His skirt is fresh bamboo strips which must give enough protection to survive. He had to be pulled off the fire by helpers as he is nearly unconscious. Some costumes are nearly 20ft high, carried on a dancers shoulders. Crashing drums, blaring shaums and bomb like fireworks going off all the time. Makes Christmas carol services seem a bit tame.

The pictures were scribbled in my sketchbook and then coloured crouching behind a wall. Atmosphere very friendly and party like..

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