Summer Camp for dancers in the hills of Kerala


Chennai-based Bharatakalanjali and Bhaaskara Trust jointly conducted its annual summer Gurukulam Naatya Adhyayana camp in Kaithapram, Payyanur, Kerala from April 19 to May 4, 2008. This report was filed by the organisers..

This year, there were more than 100 applications and the enquiries kept coming in. But due to lack of accommodation we could accommodate only 85 people, which included 65 students, resource staff and helpers.

Children from the age of 9 years upwards, from different parts of the globe lived like one family all through the camp. One could sense that they were here for one single purpose - to concentrate on learning in a unique atmosphere.

True to the spirit of a 'gurukulam', the teachers spent lots of time with the students.

 The faculty members for this year's gurukulam were the following - for Bharatanaatya, guru V. P. Dhananjayan and his wife, dancer-guru Shanta Dhananjayan assisted by Seetha Sasidharan, Deepthi Rajesh and Gopukiran.

For vocal music lessons, we had Rajesh Trikkaripur.

For yoga, we had Naveen & Jisha John (graduates from Bhaaskara College of yoga & philosophy) who were under the guidance of Prof. T. V. Padmanabhan.

Each day, started with Yoga-aasana at six in the morning followed by the chanting of the Upanishad and Yogasutra . . . the voices floated across the quiet hillside of Kaithapram. Music and naatya sessions were held in the class rooms throughout the day and went on till late in the evening . . . you cannot imagine having such sessions in our cities!

Summer Camp for dancers in the hills of KeralaParticipants had to rough it out (they had been briefed well before the camp started) by squatting on the floor for breakfast, lunch and dinner, drinking water sourced from the campus well and sleeping on grass mats . . they could eat home- grown fruits and vegetables and they had to clean their plates and clothes all by themselves. This was the unique experience our 'gurukulam' provides.

The day's tough schedules of practicing Naatya, learning music and memorising Naatya theory slokas (verses) was interspersed with bhajan sessions (group prayer singing) held against the backdrop of the breathtaking sunset which created a world of spirituality.

The students relaxed and enjoyed the sessions on group dancing choreographed by two faculty members - Gopukiran who was assisted by Madhavi Chandran (a senior student) and Venugopala Rao (assisted by Pookkal and Leelavathi).
The participants also got the opportunities to witness local ritualistic art forms such as 'Theyyam', Harimohan's special instrumental ensemble based on a complicated taala system and Majulan's one-man theatre show in Malayalam.
Fifteen days passed by quickly. . .and when it was time to depart some people had tears in their eyes . . .

Erina Kasai from Japan, Dr. Anuradha Murali from Orengeburg (USA) , Pramila Ramesh and her two disciples from Muscat represented the global participation at this camp. Students from Kolkota, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Rishi Valley school,Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh made this camp a mini 'Bhaaratam'.

May 3 was the finale - the guests were local villagers and parents and relatives of the students at the camp. They were here to witness a few pieces from the Bharatanatyam repertoire they had learnt at this camp. Prof. ( Dr.) K. K. N. Kurup (former Vice Chancellor of Calicut University) and Pro-Vice Chancellor of Kannur University and Dr. K. Kunhikrishnan awarded certificates to all the participants.

Dhananjayan donated 500 books from his collection to the Sanjaya Memorial Library in Payyanur and the donation was received by Sekharan Maash, who is heading the library. This library ihas been adjudged the best library in Kerala with the largest collection of books.

You can contact the Dhananjayans at - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.