Thursday, June 28, 2012


Guru Gopinath  was an  exponent of various forms of classical dances like Bharathanatyam,
Kuchupudi etc  and undergone vigorous training for Kathakali dance also.
He was born in a family which has two hundred years of Kathakali dance tradition.The famous Kathakali dancer and  teacher 'Guru Kunchu Kurup' was a member of his family.
Well famous Kathakali artists Champakkulam Paramu Pillai was his grand father and Champakkulam Pachu Pillai was his elder brother.
Gopinath was born on 24 June 1908 at Champakkulam at Kuttanadu of Alappuzha District.
His parents were  Madhavi Amma and Sankara Pillai.

Champakkulam Paramu Pillai,Mathur kunju Pillai Panicker, Thakazhy Kesava Panicker etc were his teachers in Classical dance and Kathakali initially.
When kerala Kalamandalam was started,  Vallathol Narayana Menon admitted him as a special student in the first batch for dance and Kathakali courses.The famous dancer Ananda
Sivaram and Kathakali artist Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair were also students of Kerala Kalamandaam during that period  with him.
Guru with an American girl
Highly efficient teachers taught him the lessons of dance and Kathakali including the expressions 'abhinaya' such that Guru Goinath acquired the special talent to display the nine
'Nava Rasa' expressions brilliantly on his face very fast.He had the rare talent to visualize two expressions on each half of his face the same time.
At Kerala Kala Mandalam Guru Gopinath became an expert of Northern style of Kathakali 
which is known as "Kalluvazhy" and for getting the southern style 'Kaplinganadu style' of Kathakali training he 
became the disciple of Guru Chengannur Raman Pillai and stayed at his residence at Chengannur  as a 'Gurukula System' student.Thus he became an expert in both Northern and southern style of Kathakali dance and also meanwhile he was a brilliant dancer in all classical dance forms too.
His wife Tahankamani Amma was the first student of ' Mohiniyattam'  at Kalamandalam.
Guru Gopinath made Kathakali dance more popular.He trained girls also in Kathakali dance 
and proved that it    suits for them also.He introduced biblical stories and social subjects  also  for  Kathakali.He is one of the eminent person who helped to boost Kathakali  a popular
art form among common people.
Guru Gopinath but did not stick to Kthakali alone  but he formed  a Ballet troupe and conducted
ballet dance at several places in India and abroad.He had performances in U.S.A., U.S.S.R.,European Countries etc.

Rabindranath Tagore wrote a note  in appreciation about his dancing skill after witnessing it.The Ravindra Bharathi University granted him a Doctorate in his  honor. 
Guru Gopinath  invented a new style of dancing which he named as 'Kerala Natanam' which
is gaining popularity at present and it is  included in competitions now a days.It is a  special style of classical dance
mixed with Kathakali dance.
Guru Gopinath with Thankamani Amma in their old age 

He established dance training centers as 'Natya Niketan'at Chennai,Viswa Kala Kendra at Trivandrum and Int'l Kathakali Center at Delhi.
He acted in the third talkie cinema  in Malayalam 'Prahlada' and later in movies 'Bhakta Kuchela' and ' Jesus Christ'.
He was a great dancer whose wish was fulfilled by God.He wanted to die on stage while dancing and it happened in reality  on 9 Oct 1997 at Fine Arts Hall at Ernakulam when he was enacting as 'Dasaratha' in the ballet 'Ramayana'.
Kerala  Government established 'Guru Gopinath Natana Gramam',  a dance Village at Vattiyoorkavu in Trivandrum  in his memory and  have  plans to establish a museum in his name.

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