University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

Kalaripayattu: precursor to Yoga and Katakhali Dance

Kalaripayattu is an ancient martial art originating from Kerala, South India and it is possibly one of the oldest fighting systems in existence. In addition to India it is practiced in Malaysia and Sri Lanka. The basic form includes strikes, kicks and grappling while the advanced form has weaponry, hand-to-hand combat and healing techniques. Some of the choreographed sparring of kalari payat can be applied to dance in particular Kathakali and some traditional Indian dance schools incorporate it into their training systems.

Since 1978 master practitioner, professor Philip Zarilli has been developing kalari payat as a contemporary actor training process. The training introduces performers to a psychophysical paradigm that awakens actors to the ‘bodymind’ in performance. Gulgun Kayim trained in the form with Philip Zarilli and is teaching an introduction to Kalaripayattu to the actors in Theatre Novi Most as part of their investigation into ancient physicalities.  With director Lisa Channer, they are building an original performance based on the epic of Gilgamesh,  in part inspired by the movements in this ancient Indian movement form.

Presentation will include a talk by Ms. Kayim and demonstrations of the form by actors of Theatre Novi Most.

Gülgün Kayim is an interdisciplinary theatre artist/director/writer/teacher and a founding member of local award winning site-specific performance collective, Skewed Visions, Artists of the Year in 2004. She has created several works for the group, including The House (2004), The Orange Grove (2003), The Car (2000), The Eye in the Door, Part two: Breakfast of Champions (2000), and Untitled #1 (1998).  Her work has been recognized through a number of awards and fellowships including a Creative Capital Grant, a Bush Foundation Artist Fellowship, Jerome Foundation Travel/Study Grant and a Minnesota State Arts Board Theatre Fellowship among others. A 2006 Walker Art Center resident artist, Kayim’s work has been seen in the US, London and Russia. Kayim trained in the US and London and holds a masters degree from the Center for Asian Experimental Performance at the University of Wisconsin Madison and an MFA in Directing from the University of Minnesota. Kayim is an affiliate faculty member at the University of Minnesota’s Department of Theatre Arts and Dance.


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