South India Artist Intensive Classes

Kalaripayattu: One of the world’s oldest practiced forms of combat, Kalaripayattu is a martial art and spiritual practice with origins in India’s southern state of Kerala. It incorporates strikes, kicks, grappling, choreographed sequences, and extensive weaponry, as well as integrated healing techniques. Nearly every South Indian performance tradition trains their pupils in Kalaripayattu as a foundation for a strong, flexible and awake body. A malayalam expression often applied to Kalaripayattu is meyyu kanakkuka meaning “the body becomes all eyes”.

Mohiniattam: A traditional South Indian dance form from Kerala, this elegant dance is most often meant to be performed as a solo recital by women. The term “Mohiniattam” comes from the words “mohini” meaning a woman who enchants onlookers and “aattam” meaning graceful and sensuous body movements. The word “Mohiniattam” literally means “Dance of the Enchantress”.

Kathakali: Kathakali, deriving from the words “katha” (meaning story) and “kali” (meaning play), is a highly stylized classical Indian dance-drama. This classical Keralan art form employs make-up, elaborate costumes, detailed gestures, and well-defined body movements that are accompanied by music and percussion to present the stories of the greatest Hindu epics. A Kathakali actor uses immense concentration, skill and physical stamina, gained from regimented training based on Kalaripayattu, the ancient martial art of Kerala, to prepare for this demanding art form. Actors never speak, enacting their story purely through the movement of the hands (mudras), facial expressions (rasas), and bodily movements.

Yoga/Meditation: Each morning will begin with sessions of yoga and meditation focused on centering and connecting the body, mind, and spirit. These sessions will create a space for systematic self-exploration and provide the in-depth focus required for the day’s work. The goal of these sessions will be to develop a conscious exploration of the self, its functions and the tools with which to work with its ever-illusive focus.

Carnatic Music: Thousands of years old, this musical tradition, originally documented in the Natyasastra and featured in the Indian epics of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana is focused on the versatility of the human voice. Through the practical study of ragas (melodic formulas) and talas (rhythmic cycles) participants will use their voices to explore new musical ideas and philosophies. Documented in vedic texts as a vehicle to enlightenment this disciplined practice will allow students to approach singing, rhythms and music in new ways.

Cultural Context: These sessions will provide and facilitate deep cultural and historical context of South India and Bangalore. These sessions engage participants in a dialogue with thinkers, philosophers, and citizens from the community around topics like the caste system, gender politics in the subcontinent, and Indian contemporary art and performance. These sessions allow the participants to engage with our host country in a way that is open and fearless. These sessions also consist of curated research and immersion trips in and around the city.

Chenda DrummingThe Chenda is a large wooden drum that is widely used in the southern states of India for Hindu temple festivals and the religious art forms of the region. The instrument is famous for its loud and rigid sound. This class will incorporate the traditional methods of learning chenda that involve practice on large wooden tree stumps or stones. Participants will learn traditional prayers and salutations associated with the drumming as well as codified rhythms and time measurement devices associated with South Indian music and performance.

Whole Theater – Training: Led by Theater Mitu company members, this class will prepare artists to create work that is rigorously and simultaneously visual, aural, emotional, intellectual and spiritual. This course will take the idea of Whole Theater from the theoretical into the intensely physical by focusing on corporeal training and creation tools. Through these sessions participants will develop a deeper understanding of a disciplined artistic process, gather tools for cultivating a broader global awareness, and begin to identify and articulate their personal artistic taste. This class will weave elements from the classical theater and ritual traditions of Japan, India, Bali, Mongolia, Thailand, and Iran into a method of theatrical exploration designed to push artists in new and unexpected directions.

Whole Theater – Research: This course will view the panorama of Theater Mitu’s core research, training, laboratory, and creation methodologies, known as Whole Theater. Taught by the company’s Founding Artistic Director, Rubén Polendo, this time will be spent exploring The Major Keys, the conceptual framework by which the company structures and organizes all aspects of its practice. The course will explore the artist’s relationship with the space between acting and performance, design and installation and multimedia and interactive technology. We will probe and explore varied works, methods, and processes from a range of artists across disciplines and forms. We will examine how theatrical elements within these forms can contribute to an experience at once intensely emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. Participants will develop robust research tools with which to investigate work in performance, ritual, pop-culture, visual art, and music – all towards the conceptualization and creation of their own original theatrical works.

Theater Mitu