1987 - The Kala Chethena Kathakali Company was founded and presented workshops, demonstrations and performances in the UK to make Kathakali accessible to as many people as possible whilst maintaining its ancient cultural heritage.
Decades of hard work began and Kathakali found an international touring base outside of India, in SOUTHAMPTON. UK.
1988 Toronto, Canada with WOMAD FESTIVAL- a very exciting tour as Kathakali was performed at a major international festival amongst other world- class artists. The care provided by the WOMAD organisers became our standard of care when touring our artists.
1988 KATHAKALI SUMMER SCHOOL UK - for professional artists, dancers and actors was created to provide access to the stylised performing techniques of the Kathakali actor. Professionals from a wide range of backgrounds attended the Summer School. Some still come to see the performances even now. The course took three months of research to design and structure to ensure a learning process that was relevant to non Kathakali specialists.
1988 UK TOUR - 50 performances/100 workshops plus 200 workshops and 100 solo performances. Workshops were specially designed to suit all ages especially young children. The response was overwhelming as audiences and promoters began to support Kathakali.
We were given a banquet by Visiting Arts in recognition of the planning of the tour and the high standard of care we provided for the artists.
1989 Finland with WOMAD Festival. Another exciting tour where WOMAD took excellent care of the arrangements and the artists. To perform where there is continual sunlight was remarkable.
1989 EDUCATION -we were invited to Germany to provide workshops and solo performances. Education was starting to develop as Kathakali visited more schools all over the UK. The workshops grew and evolved and Teachers Packs created as more children and teachers participated.
1989 TOUR UK - Kathakali and Centre Ocean Stream Performance Art Company approx. 55 performances, 300 workshops and 100 solo performances. This tour brought together Kathakali and the Contemporary work of Centre Ocean Stream Performance Art Company - specialising in Colour through performance as a double bill - Both are linked by the use of colour and ritual and have provided many creative workshops exploring abstract movement and visual theatre.
1990 TOUR UK - Kathakali and Centre Ocean Stream Performance Art Company approx. 55 performances, 125 workshops and 75 solo performances. This was to see the last performance of Centre Ocean Stream after 12 years of touring as Kathakali grew from strength to strength. We toured the Highlands of Scotland to include
The Isle of Lewis - the journey took us onto single track roads, passing deer herds and the most beautiful scenery imaginable.
1991 TOUR UK - Kathakali Mohiniattam approx. 50 performances, 125 workshops and solo performances.We wanted to bring other at forms from Kerala to the UK. The obvious choice was Mohiniattam - the female classical dance of Kerala. The soft style of Mohiniattam contrasted well with the more aggressive quality of Kathakali.
1992 FESTIVAL OF KERALA - In Kerala a Kathakali performance is surrounded by other art forms creating an incredible environment as the village communities celebrate. The Puram, or festival, is a the highlight of the village year. We wanted to re-create this exciting atmosphere in the UK so brought other art forms to perform with Kathakali to include Mohiniattam, Barathanattyam, Ottanthullal, Kolam, (temple dance) Thayampaka (music), Panchavadiym,Keli[drumming] and devotional songs. 75 performances and 60 workshops. This was a huge project and lasted over four months. The great master Kalamandalam Gopi and other top artists came to disclose the arts of Kerala all over the UK.
1993 TOUR - UK and IRELAND - Kathakali and Ottanthullal approx. 50 performances. This tour brought a very rare and rhythmic art form - Ottanthulal to the UK for the first time. The visit to Dublin in Ireland was exciting as Kathakali reached new shores.
1994 EDUCATION UK - 200 workshops and 100 solo performances. We decided to focus on Education Projects to establish an understanding and appreciation of Kathakali and the culture that surrounds it. Thousands of children, young people and their teachers had Kathakali in their own schools to learn , understand and enjoy non-western theatre and culture.
1995 TOUR UK - Kathakali plus EDUCATION projects with a NEW STORY specially created for Kathakali by Kalamandalam Vijayakumar and adapted from the original version of Snow White. Looking at the enormous potential of Kathakali to tell a story this new work was produced. The familiar storyline enabled the audiences to understand the characters and the plot. People from the Indian community enjoyed it and asked for more stories of this nature to be created.
1995 INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL - JAKARTA - Workshops and solo performances at the British International School, Jakarta Indonesia. The Education Programme was expanding so well that we were invited to go to Indonesia. The links between Indonesian dance - drama and Kathakali was remarkable. The workshops concluded with a performance for the whole community.
1995 TOUR UK - Kathakali and Irish music approx. 50 performances, 120 workshops and solo performances. Looking at ways to integrate Kathakali whilst maintaining it cultural heritage we explored trough the music element of the Kathakali musicians and their ability to improvise. Guest musicians from Ireland toured with the Company to present a musical collaboration to open the performance of Kathakali.
1996 EDUCATION - UK 200 workshops and solo performances. A year of education and building up an understanding of Kathakali and its cultural background.
1997 TOUR UK - Kathakali plus educational projects 45 performances, 200 workshops and solo performances. Kalamandalam Gopi - the great Kathakali master - toured with the Company to bring excellence into the performances.
1998 INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL BRAZIL - Specially designed educational projects for the British International School Sao Paulo, BRAZIL. Plus educational projects throughout the UK.200 workshops and 100 solo performances. Education is a very important element of our work as Kathakali becomes establish in the UK.
1999 TOUR UK - Kathakali - 50 performances.200 workshops and 100 solo performances. The last tour of the century - Kathakali is becoming part of mainstream theatre and years of working with promoters and schools are resulting in good audiences.
2000 A MAJOR MILLENNIUM AWARD UK TOUR with Kathakali and Theyam performing outside. 50 performances, 200 workshops and 100 solo. Theyam is incredibly visual and its ritual quality set the atmosphere for the whole evening. We presented one of the weeks in a marquee in a tiny village in Somerset in the school field. it was just like the performances in Kerala - outside in the open air performances
2001 EDUCATION UK-200 workshops and 100 solo performances. A year of education took Kathakali to thousands in schools and colleges all over the UK.
2002 TOUR UK - Kathakali - 47 performances, 200 workshops and 100 solo performance. Returning to existing audiences and reaching new audiences is building a strong base for Kathakali in this country.
2003 Education tour 50 full company performances and 200 workshops and 100 solo performance. We took the full company into schools to take Kathakali into the heart of education.
2004 Education UK 200 workshops and 100 solo performances. Continuing to provide access through practical workshops our education programme is growing.
2005 Educational full comapny tour-Kathakali and Barathanatyam more then 50 performances and 200 workshops music, drama and dance.To include a visite to the Isles of Scilly where the artiste and costumes were transported by the boat to islands
2006 FULL COMPANY KATHAKALI UK TOUR - autumn Education projects, solo performances, international tour of the UK and India to include two major heritage projects celebrating Asian and Celtic Storytelling - supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund England South East and Scotland
2007 -Education in UK 200 workshops and 50 solo performances.The Company toured in Kerala, India to establish support for young Kathakali artists. Since May 2007 we have been providing our Education Programme taking Kathakali into new areas of the UK.
2008 - UK KATHAKALI TOUR to celebrate 21 years of touring in Britain.
With the support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund we researched the historical journey fo the Mudras - the 4,000 year old sacred sign language used in Kathakali to tell a story. We discoved that the origins of this language were actually the very core of communication, first used by primitive people more than 100,000 years ago.
The 2008 UK Kathakali included the great Kathakali master PADMASREE KALAMANDALAM GOPI, and other outstanding Kathakali artists from Kerala, South India excelled to bring thousands of people to Kathakali.
2009 A Year of Education taking Kathakali to 75 different schools
providing access to Kathakali through practical workshops and solo performances.
2010 We welcome the return of the living legend, 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 from the extraordinary audiences from Exmouth to the Highlands of Scotland.
2011 - The year of Education and Community development. Kalamandalam Vijayakumar was able to bring his remarkable adaptation of the ancient Mudras [sign language] into the English alphabet to people in Kerala who are deaf, blind and 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 an international language.
In addition we are developing projects in the UK from Master Classes to specially designed projects for children and families.
2012 - We have been working with Redbridge Museum, Ilford, Redbridge on a major heritage project kindly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund - London to highlight the importance of the Kathakali costumes and make up, the people who make the costumes, how techniques have changed over time and how they represent the identity of specific charactres.
The project will conclude with an exhibition at Redbridge Museum opening on 11th October 2012.
The exhibition will include our Kathakali costumes, the art work of gifted and talented students of Wanstead High School, Redbridge and a documentary film of the memories of people from Kerala who migrated to Redbridge made by ASNet [Arthritis Self Help Network - London].
Redbridge Faith Forum and Rose Bruford College received training in Kathakali , how the characters move and how the costumes are conserved.
2013 will again explore 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 and what traditions they had to leave behind.
The project will take the heritage of the traditional classical and folk dances of Kerala through practical workshops, lectures and performances.The project will feature the popular songsof the great music director G Devaragan and the classical songs of Kerala.
The Oral Histories of the people from Kerala living in hampshire will be documented and the retained by the Wessex Film Archive.
The project will conclude with two Kerala Day Celebration for te whole community to enjoy at The Berry Theatre, Hedge End, Southampton on 27th September 2013 and the Discovery Centre, Winchester on 28th September 2013.
The Discovery Centre will also host an exhibition of the Kathakali costumes opening on 14th September next year - 2103.
Our full Kathakali Company of major artists from Kerala will be touring England - September - December [see tour dates] due to the kind suppoprt of tan Arts Council of England Touring grant.
Books - various.
THE HISTORY OF THE MUDRAS
A documentary style DVD that traces the evolution of the Mudras[sign language] from pre history, into the temples and finally into the arts.
A DICTIONARY OF THE KATHAKALI SIGN LANGUAGE:
First in the world - An interactive DVD [to be used only on a PC] will enable you to learn the complete sign language used in Kathakali.
First in the world - An interactive DVD [to be used on a PC] explores how the ancient sign language of the classical arts of India has been adapted into the English alphabet and language incorporating over 2,000 words. Ideal for teaching or learning English as a foreign language, or for people who learn visually.
A GATEWAY TO KATHAKALI.
An ideal short introduction to Kathakali, the history and how to understand a Kathakali play.
for details please contact us.
Kalamandalam Barbara Vijayakumar
1 Holland Rd, Woolston,
SO19 9FW. UK
Tel: +44 (0)23 8042 0114
Mobile: + 44 7740123070