Vattiyoorkkavu a village situated in the outskirts of Kerala’s capital city Thiruvananthapuram, is blessed to have a museum of dance after Dr. Guru Gopinath, a reformer for the Kathakali dance form in Kerala.
The statue of sage Bharata, the author of Natya Shasthra welcomes you at the entrance to the Guru Gopinath Natanagramam (Guru Gopinath National Dance Museum). The beauty of the inner hall of this museum is splendid. An institution named after the epic personality of Indian dancing is established so wonderfully.
Guru Gopinath Natanagramam is a cultural institution functioning under the Department of Culture, Government of Kerala and the assets donated by viswakalakendram, a dance centre founded by Guruji. It was his early efforts that made the Kerala dance drama “Kathakali’ widely popular and highly acclaimed at home and abroad.
This Natanagramam has been established as a centre for learning, training and research in various Indian dance forms, particularly Keralanatanam, the dance form composed by the maestro Guru Gopinath. Pioneering the training and development of the Keralanatanam style of dancing, promotion of all Indian classical and folk dance forms gives the centre a wider approval.
Natanagramam is committed also to co-operate with the Central academies, universities, state academies and other institutions and association for the furtherance of Indian Culture as whole, especially in the field of Indian dances, to promote research in the field of dance and to establish a library and a museum for the purpose and organising dance festivals are the main objects of the institution.
It also conducts free training program for the needy and talented students. Guru Gopinath had shown to the world that the legacy dance forms like Kathakali could be enacted on the stage with the stories from the day-to-day life, apart from the stories from Mythology.
Guru Gopinath is remembered as a Great Acharya who was able to develop a better syllabus and shorter duration of training to replace the 12 years long and rigorous Kathakali course, without compromising its essence and without deviating from its classical tradition. Kathakali and dancing were made popular, which was comprehensible to the layman and connoisseur as well. He carved out a style classical in form, but popular in appeal through which the fame of Kathakali spread far and wide. In fact, his life was a lamplight for conserving Kathakali in Kerala.
The 42,000-square foot museum on three floors have 10 galleries displaying paintings, statuettes, costumes, photographs, Indian musical instruments. An audio-visual presentation of various dance forms and a digital library, 5D theatres, an amphitheatre, research wing, documentation hall, very advanced auditorium, and a digital library are other amenities.
It aims at exhibiting archival materials, and offering hands-on experience to make a complex picture of dance simplified. This is the first dance museum in India. This will showcase the evolution, heritage and diversity of dance forms in India and abroad.
The costumes were purchased from professional dance costume makers in different parts of the country. As a tribute to Guruji, his rare photographs are on display. A 500 kg bronze statue of him is an attraction. The museum has avenues for research on various dance forms. Wax statues are also displayed.
A special gallery that introduces the great dancers, both folk and formal, of the bygone days like P.K. Kalan- Gaddika artist, Tanjore Balasaraswati- celebrated Bharatanatyam dancer, Odissi dancer Kelu Babu, Koodiyattam artist Mani Madhava Chakyar, Mohiniyattam dancer Kalamandalam Kalyanikutty Amma. Wax statues of them in their professional attire and form can be seen here. Videos, narrating Kathakali, Manipuri, Odisi etc. are here. Not only the art forms of Rati-Manmada, Shiva-Parvathy, Krishnaleela but Persian art forms too can see here.
Another wonderful specialty of this museum is an exclusive gallery which is enriched with the rare photos of Guru Gopinath and his wife the great dancer Thankamani. Both enacting together as Shiv-Parvathy can see here. Guru is enacting the role of King Dasaratha, enacting Manav Jeevitham based on Sankaraachaaryas Bhaja Govindam etc are the added attractions.
Photographs of Guru with famous personalities like Jawaharlal Nehru, V.K. Krishna Menon, Zakir Hussain, Rajendra Prasad, Fakhruddin Ahmed etc. are on display here. Traditional art forms of Kerala like Padayani, Theyyam, Thirayattam, Oppana, Margam Kali, Thiruvathirakkali etc. are presented here with the artists in the related attire and requisites.
The museum is not open to public even if the official inauguration is over. The very beautifully formed museum is a real tribute to Guru Gopinath, who was an exponent of various forms of classical dances. Work on 5D theatre is not complete. The museum is expected to be open for the public in a short while.
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