Branching Out 2010 to present day
We began to expand our work and undertake exciting projects that took Kathakali into new areas of development. We examined the performing techniques of Kathakali, created a film and explored new ways of presenting Kathakali to make our work more accessible to western audiences.
We increased the number of exhibitions, created a set of Kathakali masks and explored the idea of identity through the We Are What We Wear Project, how traditions travel when people migrate and take their heritage with them as part of the Our Journey Project and how the similarities between the West Sussex Gypsies, the Downland Shepherds, the Sompting Morris dancers and Kathakali through the East Meets West project.
The language of Kathakali is based on an ancient 4,000 year old sign language called Mudras. To help our audiences understand this visual language Kalamandalam Vijayakumar created the first digital dictionary of Kathakali Mudras in the world.
Kalamandalam Barbara Vijayakumar made Kathakali masks for the exhibition and we took Kathakali to the Isles of Scilly and other remote areas.
UK TOUR - We welcome the return of the living genius, the great PADMASREE KALAMANDALAM GOPI and other world-class international artists from Kerala, supported by an ancient dance ritual featuring Lord Murugan riding on his peacock, accompanied by drummers, to perform amongst the audience and create the magical atmosphere of Kerala. The tour visited over 40 schools, colleges, universities, theatres and Art Centres and generated standing ovations.
Year of Education and Community development. Kalamandalam Vijayakumar released his remarkable adaption of the ancient Mudras (sign language) into the English alphabet to people in Kerala who are deaf, blind, blind/deaf. After 25 years of research he was able to see his new language enable people who are deaf and people who are blind to communicate together through a new language based on the English language.
WE ARE WHAT WE WEAR - a heritage project, in partnership with Redbridge Museum, Ilford, kindly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund - London explored the importance of Kathakali costumes and make up, the people who make them, how they changed and over time and how the costumes represent specific characters. We also investigated how the clothes we wear represent who we are and out personal and cultural identity.
The project involved research, workshops, the production of a DVD and publication concluding with an exhibition of Kathakali costumes at Redbridge Museum.
OUR JOURNEY - we explored a heritage project kindly supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund - South East to document the traditions that the people of Kerala brought to Hampshire when they settled in the area.
The Oral Histories of people born in Kerala and settled in Hampshire were documented and retained by the Wessex Film Archive. The project concluded with two Kerala Day Celebrations for the whole community to enjoy.
Kala Hampshire contributed songs, Kai Kottu Kali (dance) and food Vidya Thirunarayan brought her group, Prithi, to perform Bharathanatyam and Bhagya Lakshmi performed Bharathanatyam with her students.
The exhibition of Kathakali costumes at The City Space Gallery, Winchester attracted over 2,000 visitors in just 3 weeks.
Kathakali continued with a major Kathakali UK Tour of 47 performances, 65 workshops, 33 solo performances supported by the Arts Council of England. We examined the performing techniques of Kathakali and made a film to make our work more accessible to western audiences. The new research worked as many people said the performance was easier to understand and so many of our audiences giving a full standing ovation.
The Company performed in the temples of Kerala between December 2013 and March 2014. Our make-up specialists have been working for 2 months on a new Warner Brothers film adapting the make-up technique to create abstract characters.
HERITAGE PROJECT: The Heritage Lottery Fund - South East Team have kindly supported out new project EAST MEETS WEST where the traditions of South India and West Sussex will be explored.
We will work with Worthing Museum, The Novium Museum, Chichester and the local schools and communities of West Sussex. The project will include Kathakali, Bharathanatyam, The Clearwater Gypsies, The Sompting Morris Dancers and the Downland Shepherds.
KATHAKALI UK TOUR - 17th May and 12th July. 2015 brought quality Kathakali to over 15,000 people from the Isles of Scilly to the Highlands of Scotland to include major cities - Southampton, London, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Birmingham and others.
World Class Kathakali artists from Kerala presented high quality performances and workshops to bring people of all ages into the magical world of Kathakali.
The tour featured a Kathakali collaboration with the Tashi Lhunpo Monks bringing Hinduism and Buddhism together through workshops, performances and sacred powder paintings presented over 5 days at the beautiful Gaunt House.
An exceptional tour that ended with WOMAD Festival.