Guru Gopinath - Profile
Guru Gopinath was born in 1908 to a family whose menfolk had for generations appreciated and engaged in the performance of the art form Kathakali. Naturally Gopinath too started practicing dancing from boyhood and adopted dancing as his life's career. Later in 1972, Gopinath joined the Kerala Kalamandalam, the celebrated training centre for Kathakali. The American dancer with Indian connections, Ragini Devi, became interested in Indian classical dance forms and found her way to Kerala and joined Kerala Kalamandalam in 1930.
Mohiniyattam and Kathakali became her passions. Soon Ragini Devi was enchanted by the outstanding talents and friendly and playful disposition of young Gopinath. When she travelled to Mumbai(then Bombay), she obtained permission to take Gopinath with her as a teacher and partner in dance. There were many elements in common in their approach to Kathakali. They both found the costumes, trinkets, and make-up used in Kathakali and its staging obstructing its appreciation outside Kerala. Hence, they experimented with a simpler and more compact artform without losing the beauty and conventional flavour of Kathakali. Their devotion to the cause soon found success and marked the evolution of Kerala Natanam.
Gopinath and Ragini Devi gave performances of their new version of Kathakali all over North India and won appreciation even from such dignitaries as Tagore, Nadalal Bose and Nehru. After four years of continuous travelling and performances that started in 1932, Gopinath returned to Kerala and married Thankamani, a pupil at the Kalamandalam whom he had wooed and promised to make his partner both in dance and in his life. Thankamani proved a fitting partner and wife for the gifted performer Gopinath. Together they started touring and performing in South India.
In appreciation of the talents of Gopinath, who by this time had become widely known as Guru Gopinath, the Maharaj of Travancore appointed him as the place Dancer and bestowed on him the Veerasrinkhala, the highest token of reverence one could receive. In 1937 Gopinath was made the head of Chitrodaya Nrithakalalaya established by the Royal family in Trivandrum(now Thiruvananthapuram).
In 1942, Guruji launched a school named Natana Nikethan in Madras. Ten years later, in 1956, he opened another school in Delhi named, Kerala Kala Kendram, now the renowned international centre of Kathakali. Back in Kerala, Guruji started another dance centre in 1961; Viswakalakendra in Trivandrum.
The final day of Guruji's life occured when he was performing on stage in Ernakulam on the 9th of October, 1987. The life devoted to performance and promotion of dance ended, quiet fittingly, on stage engaged in the art he loved and enriched. Guru Gopinath left a rich legacy that continues inspiring generations that followed him. Establishing a National Dance Museum is part of his mission and this proposal is step forward in fulfilling that dream.
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കേരള സർക്കാർ - സാംസ്ക്കാരിക കാര്യ വകുപ്പു്
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തിരുവനന്തപുരം -695013
ഫോൺ . 0471- 2364771
Guru Gopinath Natanagramam
(Govt. of Kerala undertaking - Dept. of Cultural Affairs)
Kuruvikkad, Vattiyoorkavu P.O.
Thiruvananthapuram 695 013
Tel: 0471 2364771
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