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KERALA KALAMANDALAM, THRISSUR  
 

Kerala Kalamandalam is a major centre for learning Indian performing arts, especially those that developed in the southern state of Kerala. It is situated in the village of Cheruthuruthy in Thrissur district on the banks of the Bharathapuzha.

The institution, now a deemed university, was founded in 1930 by poet Vallathol Narayana Menon and Manakkulam Mukunda Raja. Kalamandalam imparts training in classical dance and theatre forms like Kathakali, Mohiniyattam, Kudiyattam, Thullal, Kuchipudi, Bharatanatyam, and Nangiar Koothu, besides the traditional orchestra called Panchavadyam. Training is also given in various percussion instruments like chenda, maddalam and mizhavu. Kalamandalam follows the gurukula sampradayam, the ancient Indian education system based on residential tutelage.

The inception of Kalamandalam gave a second life to three major classical performing arts of Kerala, as Kathakali, Kudiyattam and Mohiniyattam were, by the turn of 20th century, facing the threat of extinction under various regulations of the colonial authorities. It was at this this juncture, in 1927, that Vallathol Narayana Menon and Mukunda Raja came forward and formed a society called Kerala Kalamandalam. They solicited donations from the public and conducted a lottery in order to raise funds for this society.Kerala Kalamandalam was inaugurated in November 1930 at Kunnamkulam, and was later shifted to the village of Cheruthuruthy, just south of Shoranur.

Kalamandalam was conceived to provide training to its students in the Gurukula Sampradaya, an ancient tradition of residential schooling where students stayed with the teachers, sharing the same atmosphere and learning from them the nuances of the arts. Eminent masters were brought to Kalamandalam. Training sessions, which started in the morning, extended till late in the night.

 

Masters in Kalamandalam
Among the classical arts that Kalamandalam provides training in, Kathakali is possibly the most popular across the world. The institution's history has been marked by the services of several Kathakali masters like Pattikkamthodi Ravunni Menon, Padma Shri Vazhenkada Kunchu Nair, Padma Bhushan Kalamandalam Ramankutty Nair, Kalamandalam Padmanabhan Nair, Padma Shri Keezhpadam Kumaran Nair, Kalamandalam Gopi, Kalamandalam Vasu Pisharody and Vazhenkada Vijayan among others in the Kalluvazhi style. Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair, arguably the greatest-ever Kathakali artiste, also has been one of the early-day students at the institute. Notable among the southerners who have served the Kalamandalam are Guru Kunchu Kurup, Madavoor Vasudevan Nair and Mankompu Sivasankara Pillai. Kalamandalam Rajasekharan, known for his female Kathakali roles, is currently the institute's principal. Other noted tutors at present include Kalamandalam Balasubramanian and Krishnakumar.

Vallathol Narayana Menon invited legendary Guru, authority of Rasa-abhinaya and Kutiyattam, Natyacharya Mani Madhava Chakyar as the master trainer for Rasa-abhinaya and Netrabhinaya to the Kathakali students.

Kalamandalam Neelakantan Nambisan, an over-arching Kathakali musician of the 20th century, was a product of the institute. His prominent disciples include Kalamandalam Unnikrishna Kurup, Gangadharan, Ramankutty Varrier, Madambi Subramanian Namboodiri, Kalamandalam Sankaran Embranthiri, Kalamandalam Hyderali, Kalamandalam Venmani Haridas, Subramanian, Kalanilayam Unnikrishnan and Kalamandalam Bhavadasan. Leading percussionists of yesteryear include Kalamandalam Krishnankutty Poduval and Pallassana Chandra Mannadiyar (chenda), besides Kalamandalam Appukutty Poduval and Narayanan Nambisan (maddalam). Vazhenkada Govinda Varrier and Kalamandalam Rammohan had been leading chutti (make-up) masters.

Legendary gurus in the field of Kudiyattam include Padma shri Mani Madhava Chakyar and Painkulam Rama Chakyar, while in Mohiniyattam, the most celebrated personality, has been Kalamandalam Kalyanikutty Amma.

 
Awards Instituted by Kalamandalam
The institution honours noted performers with awards. Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar was the first recipient of its Suvarna Mudra (gold medal) and Guru Mani Madhava Chakyar was the recipient of the first Fellowship. The institution also gives away the annual Kalamandalam award.
 

Academic Status

In 2006, the Kalamandalam was accorded the status of "Deemed University for Art and Culture" by the Government of India.


Vallathol Narayana Menon, co-founder

Manakkulam Mukunda Rajah, co-founder

Guru Mani Madhava Chakyar, Guru of Rasa Abhinaya

 

External Link
Official Website
http://www.kalamandalam.org/keralakalamandalam.asp

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