chenda & dance

I was born right in the middle of the annual festival of Sree Poornathrayeesa temple, Tripunithura (once the family temple of my father’s family – the royal family of Cochin - which they later on handed over to the public) which comes during the month of ‘Vrischika’ of Malayalam calendar (Scorpio in the Zodiac). My mother, nine months pregnant, was in the temple throughout the eight days of the festival enjoying the percussion orchestra – while on the penultimate day, I popped out at dawn! So from my very first birthday I was in the midst of the Kerala drum music and its different exotic rhythms. It must be one of the many reasons why the Kerala percussion is so important to me. But it took me many years to actually learn the art form which is supposed to be a completely ‘masculine art’.


It was actually my mother’s interest to teach me dance at the ‘Kerala Kalaalayam’ instituted by the famous Mohiniyattom maestro Smt. Kalamandalam Kalyanikutti Amma and the Kathakali maestro Padmasree Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair. I learnt dance there for more than one decade and performed on many important venues. Even now I am composing my own numbers and teaching students. However, it was not dance as an art form itself, but its dependence on beats and rhythm and its theatrical possibilities which excited me. Many an occasion it helped me in designing my performing installations. The knowledge of rhythm and movements helped me in my ‘performing of poetry’ (another installation I do in connection with my painting events).