Celebrating 90 years of the Kerala Kalamandalam, India
Celebrating 90 years of the Kerala Kalamandalam.
Cheruthuruthy, Trissur, Kerala, India is the home of the Kerala Kalamandalam established by the poet Vallathol Narayana Menon and Mukunda Raja in 1930 to support Kathakali and the arts of Kerala.
Vallathol brought artists from Olappamana Mana, a place where Kathakali had been supported for around 300 years. The artists were brought to the newly formed Kerala Kalamandalam to teach young students the traditional and classical arts of Kerala.
Through these dedicated and talented ashans [gurus] the revival of Kathakali began. One of the great masters to come to the Kerala Kalamandalam from Olappamana Mana was my ashan, the legend Kalamandalam Govinda Warrier Ashan. He was responsible for developing the costumes and the make up [Chutti], especially the use of paper in creating the chutti.
Kalamandalam Govinda Warrier Ashan and Kalamandalam Barbara Vijayakumar - the first female Kathakali chutti artist in the world.
A small white wooden gate
A small white wooden gate led into the Kerala Kalamandalam compound and through that gate walked the masters of Kathakali who contributed to the development of the arts of Kerala. Through that same gate walked a girl from England who had travelled overland to India by bus, train, donkey and by foot to learn the art of chutti. Her name was Barbara, graduated in 1976 as the first female chutti artist in the world and is proud to be called Kalamandalam Barbara Vijayakumar.
In 1987 she co founded the Kala Chethena Kathakali Company in the UK with her Kathakali husband, Kalamandalam Vijayakumar. Since then they have brought Kathakali to around 250,000 people all over Britain in celebration of the name - the Kerala Kalamandalam.
To all our ashans, friends and class mates - thank you for the fond memories.
Kalamandalam Barbara Vijayakumar and Kalamandalam Vijayakumar