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Kalyana Krishna Dance & Music Festival 2012

A Report

View more Photos - 2012 Photo Gallery >>

                                        Fabulous Classical Feast

Jose Philip        
The seventh annual edition of the KalyanaKrishna Dance and Music Festival was held on December 7, 8 and 9, 2012, at Changampuzha Samskarika Kendram Stage at Changampuzha Park at Edappally in Kochi.

The event is being held every year by the KalyanaKrishna Foundation, the organization founded  in memory of the legendary couple of Kerala’s own classical arts – Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair, one of the greatest and versatile Kathakali artistes Kerala has even seen, and wife Kalamandalam Kalyanikkutty Amma, who codified and systematized Kerala’s own  dance style Mohiniyattom in its present classical form.

The three-day event began on December 7, 2012, with a grand and memorable opening ceremony, which was inaugurated at 5.30 p.m. by Padmabhushan Dr Kalamandalam Ramankutty Nair, the senior-most living Kathakali artiste and who was junior colleague of Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair. It was an occasion of immense honour and happiness for the organizers and the audience alike that Ramankutty Nair Asan, aged 87 and in poor health, managed to come all the way from his native village in Palakkad to Kochi to participate in the opening ceremony. (Ramankutty Nair passed away three months later – on March 11, 2013).

After inaugurating the festival, Ramankutty Nair presented two awards: The KalyanaKrishna Foundation Endowment Award-2012 to Fact Bhaskaran for his Lifetime Commitment to Kathakali; and the KalyanaKrishna Changarappally Anujan Memorial Award-2012 to Kalamandalam Soman in appreciation of his Commendable Commitment to Kathakali. The second award was a surprise once, with no prior announcement, given away in honour of Changarappally Anujan, who was actively associated with the functioning of KalyanaKrishna Dance and Music Festival from its very beginning.

The opening ceremony was presided over by Professor M K Sanu, renowned teacher, writer and speaker. What is more, Guru Sreedevi Rajan, daughter of Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair and Kalamandalam Kalyanikkutty Amma and renowned Mohiniyattom dancer and teacher, was Prof. Sanu’s favourite pupil at Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam.

In his presidential address, Prof. Sanu warned the audience to be on their guard against the present ‘cultural invasion’ from the West as against the military and economic invasion earlier. He praised the children of Krishnan Nair and Kalyanikkutty Amma, especially Guru Sreedevi Rajan, and other members of the family for conducting the KalyanaKrishna Dance and Music Festival every year to promote classical arts and artistes, braving all odds.

Guru Sreedevi Rajan thanked everyone present, especially Kalamandalam Ramankutty Nair, who was kind and loving enough to be present at the function. She reiterated KalyanaKrishna Foundation’s commitment to fostering classical arts and artistes.

The opening ceremony was followed by a sumptuous artistic treat in the form of kathakali Uttaraswayamvaram (Part I). Those on stage include talented artistes such as Kalamandalam Soman, Haripriya Namboothiri, Kalamandalam Radhakrishnan, R L V Pramod, Parvathi Menon, R L V Damodar Pisharodi, Kalanilayam Rajeev, Kalamandalam Sudheesh, Gopikrishnan Thampuran, Asokan, Manoj, and Kalamandalam Raju John.

Day Two of the festival, December 8, began with a mellifluous recital of Carnatic music by Prof. Mavelikkara P Subramanyam, who was accompanied on the violin by Edappally Ajith, and on the mridangam by M Balasubramanyam, Principal of R LV College of Music and Institute of Fine Arts.

After the Carnatic music recital came the most-awaited event of the whole festival – Mohiniyattom by star performer Smitha Rajan, daughter and disciple of Guru Sreedevi Rajan. (Incidentally, Smitha Rajan runs Nrithykshethra – Temple of Dance – in St Louis, Missouri, the United States).

As was the case in all the previous festivals of KalyanaKrishna Foundation (as also in her performances elsewhere), Smitha stole the limelight and won hearts with the consummate ease and versatility of her steps, mudras and facial expressions. One marvels at the fact that Smitha is getting prettier and younger by the year! She combiners in her the best of her illustrious mother and her legendary grandparents through her alluringly good looks, seasoned performance and unstinted dedication to classical art.
The third and final day, December 9, was made memorable with Bharatanatyam by the young and lovely couple Renjitha and Vijna, from Chennai. Though young age-wise, the duo demonstrated mellowness and accuracy in their performance.

This was followed by a rare treat – Krishnanattom, staged by Guruvayur Kshethrakalanilayam (Guruvayur Temple Troupe). Two stories were presented – Narakaasura Vadham and Syamanthakam.  Krishnanattom is rarely performed outside temple premises. The spectators were deeply indebted to the organizers for having given them a rare chance see Krishnanattom being performed at the festival.

On all the tree days, there was very good audience attendance, including a number of foreigners. This is the best proof that KalyanaKrishna Dance and Music Festival is gaining immense recognition and popularity among the lovers and connoisseurs of classical art.

We are keenly looking forward to the next year’s festival.

Jose Philip is a senior journalist based in Kochi, Kerala, and an ardent lover of South Indian classical music and performing arts.  email:

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