The earliest reference to the dramatic dance of Kerala is found in the Tamil epic Silappadikaram (2nd c AD), which states that a Sakkyan (Chakkiyar) from Perur in North Travencore entertained the Chera king Senguttuvan with a dramatic dance episode where a halt was made during a journey of military conquest. (The Theatre in the Temple, Dance Dialects of India by Ragini Devi, p77).

In her heyday, Mohiniattam guru Kunjukuttyamma was graded as a top class dancer and paid the princely sum of Rs.20 per month for food and lighting oil lamps. A temple maintained her troupe of six dancers, but their performances appear to have been more in private houses - mana (Nambudiri's house), matham (Iyer Brahmin house) and vidu (Nair house) than in the temple itself or as part of religious worship or rituals. (Kanak Rele, 'Mohini Attam' chapter in "Mohiniattam: The Lyrical Dance")

Considered the best form of performance, Baithak is an informal gathering of people who sit down around a performer. The way the audience is absorbed in the highs and lows of the music or the movements of a dancer is what makes it special.
("An evening to remember" by Aasheesh Mamgain, Hindustan Times, New Delhi, Nov 13, 2003)

Snippets - Monthwise listing