Kerala Kalamandalam was founded in 1930 by renowned poet Padmabhooshan Vallathol Narayana Menon along the banks of the river Nila in the Cheruthuruthy village of Thrissur District. Veteran teachers and talented students are its inestimable wealth. For art-recitals, demonstrations and workshops held in Kalamandalam and outside, artiste-teachers and students participate. Kerala Kalamandalam is the premiere public institution in India imparting training in and conducting performances of the classical arts of Kerala viz. Kathakali, Kutiyattam, Mohiniyaattam, Thullal and Panchavaadyam. Kerala Kalamandalam has been functioning as a grant-in-aid institution under the Cultural Affairs Department, Government of Kerala. Kalamandalam is strictly a residential center of learning. Veteran teachers and talented students are its inestimable wealth. Training in art-disciplines at Kalamandalam essentially adheres to the ancient Gurukula sambradaaya (The traditional mode of education which calls for a deep bond between the teacher and the student).
Soon after the institute’s inception, Kalamandalam has been a favourite hub of dancers, theater-artists, musicians, art-scholars, historians and aesthetes from all over the world. Dr. Clifford Jones and his wife Betty True Jones who were passionately drawn towards Kathakali and Mohiniyattam were instrumental in letting the world know about the uniqueness of Kalamandalam in the first half of the 20th century. Kalamandalam Kathakali and Koodiyattam troupes have participated in almost all the international dance-theatre festivals held in Europe, USA and Canada during last five decades. For the Ramayana festival held in Bagkok twice and in the Asia-Pacific Festival held in Taipei under the National Centre for the Arts, Kalamandalam Kathakali and koodiyattam performances were a major attraction. The Indian Council for Cultural Relations has sponsored Kalamandalam troupes time and again for performances in Europe, the US, Australia and Canada.
Campuses and Affiliation:
All the students stay within the campus as this is strictly a residential University. Classes start in the kalaries at 4.30 in the morning and continue till evening. The Kalari-training focuses on physical exercise, body massage, recapitulation and repetition of lessons learned. Teacher-disciple relation here is informal, warm and exemplary. While physical disciplining of the body and the limbs is a pre-requisite to students of acting / dancing, the current pedagogy aims at imparting theoretical knowledge of art forms too for inculcating a spirit of inquiry among them. Kalamandalam has seriously undertaken this task as well. The motto of the University is to design a sound system of art education in the traditional way imbibing the spirit of enlightenment of the new age. There are fourteen art-disciplines at Kalamandalam which combine theoretical and practical training in the traditional performing arts of Kerala.
Research and Development:
Students from different countries undergo condensed training in one or the other classical performing arts at Kalamandalam every year. Some of them combine applied- training and research. The Indian Council for Cultural Relations, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India offers scholarships to a few of them under the International Cultural Exchange Program, With a collection of over 50,000 books on theater, music, dance, Indian History, Aesthetics, Epics, Puranas and so on Kalamandalam library is distinguished in many respects. Research is yet to be a vital area in the sphere of classical arts. The materials for study / research we have so far are mostly eulogies / hagiography on artists by their admirers. Scientific evaluation and aesthetic interpretations are rare. Art criticism is hence in a degenerated state. The university has therefore begun programs for research and higher studies in the field of performing arts. Cultural studies, Performance studies, Mass Communication, Women’s studies and documentary film-productions are being incorporated as part of the doctoral programs at Kalamandalam.