Nomadic Night

Annette Leday/Keli Company, with Manikandan and two musicians (singing and Chenda)

Backstage at Kathakali. The little theater of emotions

Location: Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, view access map
Prices and conditions

About the event

Makeup and dance: Sadanam Manikandan
Chenda percussion: Sadanam Ramakrishnan
Vocals: Sadanam Saikumar
Conception and direction: Annette Leday

Kathakali is one of the world’s oldest forms of theater. At once, sacred and popular, this art, played, danced, and sung, recounts the great epics of Hindu mythology. After a long and rigorous apprenticeship, performers learn to master a range of extremely complex and stylized physical and symbolic gestures, as well as the nuanced expression of emotions to share with the public.

Thanks to the Annette Leday/Keli Company, this Nomadic Night invites audiences behind the scenes of the world of Kathakali. Performed against the backdrop of the Bijoy Jain / Studio Mumbai exhibition, the dancer Manikandan, musician Ramakrishnan, and singer Saikumar (all trained at the Kathakali Sadanam School in Kerala) invite the public to discover some of the essential stages of this form of dance-theater: from the makeup that completely covers the face to the traditional greeting, along with the language of the hands and dancing to the rhythm of percussions. This in-situ creation offers an insight into this captivating art and remarkable theater of emotions.


For many years, the choreographer, theater director, and translator Annette Leday has been developing an original creative approach between France and India. After a lengthy period of study in the classical form of Kathakali, Annette has enjoyed a career as a contemporary choreographer since the late 1980s, where she creates performances involving both Indian and French artists. Alongside her work as a choreographer, Annette Leday regularly translates plays by contemporary Indian writers. She recently authored a book and produced a film on contemporary dance in India.

From 1982 to 1992, Sadanam Manikandan studied Kathakali dance-theater at the Gandhi Seva Sadanam School in Kerala. He was the Kathakali Master of Sadanam for a long time and currently teaches privately. He was the recipient of several local awards in recognition for the quality of his Kathakali performances. Since 1992, he has taken part in all creations and international tours of the Annette Leday/Keli Company. In 1995, he was awarded a UNESCO grant for his participation in the show Cendrillon Ailleurs.

Sadanam Ramakrishnan studied the art of Chenda percussion for eight years at the Gandhi Seva Sadanam School in Kerala. Since 1990, he has been an instructor at Sadanam and participates in all the troupe’s performances. He also studied Thayambaka, a complex multi-percussion concert form played in temples. He performed at the Théâtre de la Ville in 2019 in the play Kathakali-King Lear, directed by Annette Leday.

Sadanam Saikumar studied Kathakali song for eight years at the Gandhi Seva Sadanam School in Kerala and then at the Kalamandalam Academy. Saikumar is a talented young singer who is highly sought after on the arts circuit. He was one of Kathakali troupe present at the Festival de l’Imaginaire, held at the Maison des Cultures du Monde in Paris in 2022.

Practical information

Additional information

Estimated duration: 1h.
Doors open at 6:30pm (for the first show at 7pm) and at 8:30pm (for the second show at 9pm).
Seated show, subject to availability.
Nomadic Nights begin at the time indicated: latecomers will only be allowed entry if this does not disturb the show.
The exhibition Breath of an architect by Bijoy Jain / Studio Mumbai will not be accessible during the Nomadic Night.
This event will be filmed by the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain teams for distribution on our digital communication platforms and those of third parties authorized by us. The audience may appear in the produced content. If a person appears in the produced content and wishes to be removed, please contact the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain at