Kochi: The Kochi Muziris Biennale (KMB) starts later this month. It will feature a four month long performing arts festival where it will showcase the country’s rich heritage across region and centuries, by pooling in 650 artistes and collaborating with 25 cultural groups.
An array of theatre, dance, music, percussion and literacy programmes cutting across different cultural aesthetics of India’s south and north, from ancient to medieval to modern times will unravel from next week in Ernakulam and Thrissur districts. It will trace a cultural commonality to the long lost port of Muziris which borders these two districts.
In a press meet held in Kochi, KMB 2014 curator, Jitish Kallat spoke of how the locals and visitors to the biennale could engage with it through a variety of cultural and intellectual platforms beyond the central ‘Whorled Explorations’ exhibition he has curated, featuring 94 artists from 30 countries. He added, “While the cultural segment adds to their reaching out, the shows also ensure reinterpretation of traditional arts in a contemporary context.”
KMB Director of Programmes, Riyas Komu, said the cultural segment this time highlights the festival as a mirror to the tradition rather than showcasing individual artistry which was the chief feature of a similar endeavour in the 2012 edition of the biennale. He declared, “No other biennales of the world give prominence to performing arts as we do at Kochi-Muziris.”
“Today’s art world often faces dilution in the name of improvisation and fine-tuning. KMB’s cultural segment is a strong check to this trend.”, informed ‘Keli’ Ramachandran, Biennale`s performing arts fete curator. Thrissur-born K Ramachandran , who has been running the ‘Keli’ cultural forum in Mumbai for the past quarter century, said his curation sought to ensure that the festival presented the essence of each art-form.
Also dotted with seminars and meet-the-artist sessions, the cultural segment of KMB’s second edition will begin with the inaugural event on November 29 at the Changambuzha Park in subsurban Edappally. It will feature traditional as well as novel ‘kooru’ rythmic passages in a trio thayambaka show by young chenda artistes Panamanna Sasi, Sukapuram Dileep and Udayan Namboodiri.
From 8-11 December, the same venue will host a Kathakali festival involving four slow-paced ‘Kottayam plays’. Kalamandalam Gopi (as Arjuna in Kalakeyavadham) will be the star performer.
The 5-day ‘Chuvuti’ Chavittu Natakam, stomp drama, festival will start
on December 26 at Gothuruthu near Paravur. The Biblical themes come into
deep focus in this art-form with roots in the Latin Catholic community
of coastal Kerala dating back to the 16th century.
Mahabharata will come into focus at a three-day Women’s Classical
Theatre Festival starting on January 27 at RLV College, Tripunithura.
Draupadi (Usha Nagiar), Gandhari (Dr. Indu G) and Subhadra (Kalamandalam
Sangeetha) will be the characters presented in Nagiarkootha that has
1500 years of antiquity.
South Canara’s pre-classical
Yakshagana will be presented in February; an Udupi-based troupe will
perform ‘Chakravyuha’ with Abhimanyu (from Mahabharata) as the
On March 1 KMB will feature tribal martial dance
Chhau in the Saraikela style by Gopal Dube and team. A week later, there
will also be a Mappila Festival (March 7-8).
Final weeks will
have ‘Goshree Peruma’, a permanent KMB feature exploring the cultural
anthropology of Kochi, which this time focuses on literary possibilities
of the region. March 13-15 event will host Chavittu Natakam, band of
Kochi and Ghazals (by Umbai) besides seminars and open interviews. A
theatre festival on veteran Thuppettan (Subrahmanian Namboothiri) will
be from March 21 to 22.