A tireless action stretches its hands towards perfection
- Prof. CP Unnikrishnan
e-mail: bharathamuni@gmail.com

April 30, 2011

Prof. Vilasini, the pioneer among the propagators of the Kalakshetra style of Bharatanatyam in the State of Kerala enters her 60th year of untiring efforts for the cause of this classical art form. Being the first prize winner of Bharatanatyam in the erstwhile Kerala University Youth Festival, she was the one and only artiste selected by the Government of Kerala and deputed to Kalakshetra in Chennai in 1958 to get trained under the great dancer Rukmini Devi Arundale. It was to bring the true style and spirit of this art form to our state. It was after appointing her as a Bharatanatyam teacher in RLV College of Music and Institute of Fine Arts, Thrippunithura, an institution established to cherish and propagate various art forms in Kerala, under royal patronage. After her 37 years of commendable service there, when she retired as the Head of the Department of Bharatanatyam in 1995, Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Academy honoured her with its award for that year in consideration of her valuable contributions to the field of dance.

She established a dance school Nrithyasri in 1972 annexed to her house, for providing advanced training in Bharatanatyam under gurukula form of teaching. At present, she is working as the senior instructor in Bharatanatyam at Sree Chithira Thirunal Smaraka Sangeetha Natya Kala Kendram, Thiruvananthapuram, and Noopura Institute of Indian Classical Dances at Poojappura. Her husband PS Muraleedharan Nair, Rtd. Marketing Manager of the Kerala State Marketing Federation was the driving force behind her success. The couple has two daughters Shylaja M Nair and Sunitha M Nair; both of them were Kalathilakams of Mahatma Gandhi University Youth Festival from 1987 to 1989 and have participated in dance presentations in Festival of India at erstwhile USSR representing India in 1987. They are presently working in Indian schools at Al Ghubra and Wadi Kabir in Muscat, Shylaja as Maths teacher and Sunitha as dance teacher. In 2002, Sunitha established the second annex of Nrithyasri Institute of Classical Dance & Music at Thekkekkuttu Buildings, Kanjikkuzhy at Kottayam. Kalakshetra Vilasini has striven to impart the true Kalakshetra style of Bharatanatyam to the dance artistes of Kerala by way of an intensive training for nine days, through an effective workshop at Kottayam.

The opening ceremony of the Bharatanatyam Shilpashala 2011 was conducted at DC Books Auditorium, Kottayam, on 16th April 2011. Anupama Mohan (cine actress and Kuchipudi dancer) along with her husband Mohan (cine director) inaugurated the workshop. VN Vasavan, MLA, presided over the meeting and Thilakan (cine actor and dramatist) was the chief guest for the function. Felicitations were given by Thiruvizha Jayasankar and Adv. K Suresh Kurup (Ex MP). PS Muraleedharan Nair, Director Nrithyasri, delivered the vote of thanks. It was followed by two lecture demonstrations on dance by Dr. C Venugopalan Nair (Head of the department of Bharatanatyam, Sree Sankara Sanskrit University, Kalady) and Sreedevi Rajan (Mohiniattam guru). The event witnessed the honoring of eminent senior artists of the district like Thiruvizha Jayasankar (nagaswaram), Pallom Madhavan (Kathakali music), Kuroor Vasudevan Namboodiri (Kathakali), Kudamaloor Appukkuttan (Sapthakalasangamam), Amayannoor Damodara Kurup (panchavadyam), Kumara Kerala Varma, TK Rugmini Nair, Ponkunnam Ramachandran, Kottayam Veeramani and Mathangi Sathyamoorthi (Carnatic Music), Alappy Renganath (music direction), Kalamandalam Gopinath (dance) by hon'ble Justice KT Thomas (former Judge of the Supreme Court of India).

From the next day, there was practical training right from the basic steps to adavus, which was given by Deepthi Parol (a disciple of Guru VP Dhananjayan) and Haritha (1st rank holder in Post Diploma in Bharatanatyam from Chennai Kalakshetra) for 2 hours each in the morning and evening sessions. Every day, there were interactive sessions on various subjects led by eminent artistes and gurus from dance and connected fields like Adyar Lakshman (on Kalakshetra style of Bharatanatyam and nattuvangum), Thiruvizha Jayasankar (on thalam in classical music and dance), Nandankodu Vinayachandran (on bhavams in various forms of classical dances), Changanassery Madhavan Namboodiri (on ragas to create bhavas in dance), Dr. CP Unnikrishnan (on Natya Shastra), G Venu and Nirmala Panicker (exponents in Koodiyattam and Mohiniattam). All the students were trained by Deepthi Parol to perform Natyanjali, an invocatory item choreographed by VP Dhananjayan and a Thillana set to Ragam Hindolam by Haritha. Out of the 30 participants in the workshop, 16 were selected to do 'Goureesankaram,' a dance drama depicting the stories of Lord Shiva, choreographed by Vilasini.

The workshop came to an end with the lecture demonstrations delivered by the Dhananjayans on 24th April at the auditorium of Hotel Mali International. Both VP Dhananjayan and Shanta Dhananjayan together perfected the performance of Natyanjali by the participants. Also there was an interactive session in which they answered all questions put forward by the participants. Dhananjayan inaugurated the valedictory function held at Sivasakthi Auditorium in front of Thirunakkara Mahadeva Temple, Kottayam. VN Vasavan, MLA, presided over the function. The chimes of the temple bells made the function more auspicious when Dhananjayan opened his speech by requesting the MLA to take every endeavor to honor Kalakshetra Vilasini who has toiled much for the propagation of Kalakshetra style of Bharatanatyam in the State of Kerala for six decades.

The keynote address was delivered by Dr. J Prasad (Vice Chancellor, Sree Sankaracharya Sanskrit University, Kalady) who is holding the charge of the Vice Chancellor of Kerala Kalamandalam Deemed University also. The Dhananjayans were honored by Vilasini and her husband PS Muraleedharan Nair. In return, they honored Vilasini by adorning her with a silk shawl. Felicitations were made by Alappy Renganath (music director), MG Sudhakaran Nair (President, Renjini Sangeetha Sabha, Kottayam), VB Binu (Chairman, Oil Palm India Ltd) and K Anil Kumar (President, Kottayam Co-operative Urban Bank Ltd.). The function ended with the stage presentation of the dance drama 'Goureesankaram' by the participants of Shilpashala.