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Unnayi Warrier Smaraka Kalanilayam

One can aptly call this institute one of the citadels of Kerala's popular and magnificent art form ?Kathakali'. The Unnayi Warrier Smaraka Kalanilayam at Irinjalakuda in Thrissur District is one of the few leading institutes in Kerala, which has an illustrious tradition and reputation for imparting training in Kathakali as well as in performing it to the delight of many an audience.

Named after Unnayi Warrier, the great Sanskrit scholar, and poet laureate of the erstwhile Travancore Province, he is also the author of the famous Attakatha called Nalacharitham (Attakathas are stories taken up for Kathakali performances)

The Unnayi Warrier Smaraka Kalanilayam took birth following a conclave of Kathakali artistes at Irinjalakuda, which planted the intense desire in the minds of the local people to establish a center for Kathakali training. Their dream got realized in the year 1955 and soon gained popularity and acceptance as a premier establishment for performance and learning of Kathakali.

The institute has excellent facilities and the right ambiance for learning the intricacies of Kathakali with some of the reputed names in the filed of Kathakali taking up the mantle of trainers. At the Unnayi Warrier Smaraka Kalanilayam a student of Kathakali can undergo training in Kathakali Vesham (acting), which is of six-year duration;Kathakali Sangeetham (music), which is also of six-year duration, with training in Chenda and Madhalam (percussion instruments) each of four-year duration and Chutti & Koppupani (make-up and costume), which is of three-year duration. A diploma certificate is issued after the successful completion of all these courses. Students can stay at the Kalanilayam hostel while undergoing training in Kathakali. Many of the students in the institute were the recipients of Government of India cultural wing scholarship for Kathakali. Besides the regular course stream, students can also join for part-time courses.

There is also a dance academy besides the Kathakali training center, which takes care of training in other classical dance forms like Bharatanatyam, Mohiniyattam and Kuchipudy. To manage and co-ordinate the various training programmes at the institute, there is an academic council comprising a chairman, convener and council members.

The Kalanilayam Theatre is one of the main attractions of art lovers in Kerala. Formed by the teachers and the students of the Kathakali School, the theatre today can perform more than 40 popular Attakathas (Attakathas are stories taken up for Kathakali performance). Guest artistes are also invited to perform.

Depending on the interest levels of the audience, the Kathakali performance at the Unnayi Warrier Smaraka Kalanilayam is basically of three types viz. Full-night programmes, which would be an eight hour traditional style of Kathakali performance;Club programmes, which are basically curtailed versions of full-length performances;and Lecture-cum-Demonstration, which is an attempt to create awareness of Kathakali, during which a specimen piece will be presented in the traditional style.

In its pursuit to perform as a center of excellence in Kathakali training and performance, the Unnayi Warrier Smaraka Kalanilayam also nourishes few ambitious plans for the future. This includes the setting up of an independent training unit for classical dance forms of India, and also initiatives to promote cultural tourism.

Here at the Unnayi Warrier Smaraka Kalanilayam, one can enjoy Kathakali performances on special occasions like the Republic Day, Independence Day, and on certain days like the third Thursday of a month, on October 6th, July 12th and during the festival of Navarathri.

Unnayi Warrier Road, South Nada, Irinjalakuda, Thrissur ? 680 121

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