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August 24, 2010
KERALA KALA MANDALAM
Kerala Kalamandalam (Malayalam: കേരള കലാമണ്ഡലം), lately renamed as Kalamandalam Deemed University of Art and Culture, 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 river. 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. 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 KALAMANDALALM.
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 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 in 1933.The Maharaja of Cochin donated land and a building. Subsequently, a dance department was started to revive Mohiniyattom. Kerala Kalamandalam has been functioning as a grant-in-aid institution under the Cultural Affairs Department, Government of Kerala. For special Projects, the Department of Culture, Government of India, and the Sangeet Natak Akademy, New Delhi, have been extending financial support. For the preservation and promotion of Koodiyattam, UNESCO has sanctioned substantial financial assistance to Kalamandalam in 2004. The South Zone Cultural Center, Thanjavur, has, for years, been extending financial assistance to Kalamandalam for conducting dance & music festival in this campus -
AWARD INSTITUTED BY 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, and Dr Guru Gopinath have been among the early-day students at the institute. Notable among the southerners who have served the Kalamandalam are Guru Kunchu Kurup, Madavoor Vasudevan Nair, Mankompu Sivasankara Pillai and Kalamandalam Rajasekharan. The noted tutors (of northern school) at present include Kalamandalam Balasubramanian (currently, the principal) 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 Tirur Nambissan Kalamandalam Sankaran Embranthiri, Kalamandalam Hyderali, Venmani Haridas, Kalamandalam Subramanian, Kalanilayam Unnikrishnan and Kalamandalam Bhavadasan. Leading percussionists of yesteryear include Kalamandalam Krishnankutty Poduval, Kalamandalam Achunni 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.
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.
'A Day With the Masters’
'A Day With the Masters' is a project to attract national and international tourists to spend a few hours at the Kalamandalam campus and give a direct exposure to masters in various art-disciplines, in collaboration with Kerala Tourism. The project was launched in February 2003 at the Koothambalam.
Koothambalam or Natyagriha has for long been part of Kerala’s temple-heritage. Koothambalams were built in accordance with the principles laid down in the Natyasaastra( of sage Bharata. Completed in 1976, the Kalamandalam Koothambalam has traditional architectural elegance coupled with the imaginations of a renowned architect late D Appukkuttan Nair. The pillars of the Natyagriha are made of granite. The roof-structure, the stage-floor and its pillars are made of teak-wood and rose-wood. On the granite pillars are inscribed one hundred and eight karanas (dance-poses) dealt within the Natyasastra. There are two green-rooms behind the stage. Traditionally Koothu and Koodiyattam were performed at the Koothambalam. In the Kalamandalam Koothambalam, there will be variety programs on special occasions. Watching the recitals of performing arts at the koothambalam is a delightful experience.
Art-Gallery has elegant statutes of different Kathakali characters and those of other performing arts. The statues are in fiber conceived and created by the renowned artiste Namboodiri. The outer walls of the Gallery have beautiful mural paintings by artiste Suresh and his colleagues of the Vaasthuvidya Gurukulam, Aaranmula. The costume- room has a wide variety of costumes, head-gears, wooden masks and wooden weapons used by the Kathakali and Koodiyattam characters. Near the old Kalamandalam campus, there is the Vallathol Museum where the precious moments in the life of Vallathol are preserved in visuals and words. In the old Kalamandalam campus, there is a Portrait Gallery where master- artistes of yore come alive in remarkable oil-portrait, Vallathol-Samaadh; sheltered by lush green trees is yet another attraction in the old campus.
The Vallathol-Museum at Cheruthuruthy showcases the poetic works, cultural contributions and achievements of Mahakavi Vallathol over a long period of time. In the old kalamandalam campus there is the vallathol Samadhi where his soul rests in peace. The main-building in the old campus is converted into Portrait-Gallery. Here portraits of the great artists of yore in oil painting adorn the four walls. Most of them had played commendable roles in the formative years of Kalamandalam. In the gallery exhibited countless mementos and honors Kalamandalam received for the Kathakali, Koodiyattam and Mohiniyattam recitals held in the international dance, drama and music festivals all over the world.