Dhitang is the rubric under which all activities of Kala Bharati that relate to “Dance and the child” are carried out.
Interest in children’s work started to grow almost from the foundation of Kala Bharati. The principal objective of the Kala Bharati dance school was to teach Bharata Natya, but since it also served as a vehicle for learning about Indian culture, many parents of the Indian community started to bring their children to the school even as early as at three years of age. This obliged the teachers to develop special activities for children, based on stories from Indian epics and folk tales. Examples of culture oriented activities included greetings and ritualized salutations and observations of special days dedicated to various gods and goddesses through narration of some of their well known activities. Some activities were designed, which were judged to be useful in developing faculties that could help in learning some of the Bharata Natya movements at a later age. Examples of such activities included developing the sense of rhythm through games involving clapping and moving to cyclical beats, and developing spatial awareness through movements forming defined patterns. It was decided very early that training in proper Bharata Natya would not start before the age of 7 years. This was decided in consideration of the heavy physical requirements for doing some of the movements. It was also done in consultation with Guru U.S. Krishna Rao of Bangalore, dance guru of Kala Bharati founder Mamata Niyogi Nakra, and patron Guru of Kala Bharati.
Over the years these early activities became a regular part of the training at the school for the group called KINIKINI (3 to 6 years). As the students crossed into the above 7 groups (ADI, 7-9, MUKULA, 10-12), basic movements were introduced, simple at first, gradually increasing in complexity, taking into account the student’s physical and emotional development.
Based on the experience of teaching over twenty years, a book has been produced called “SHISHU_SADHANA – a child-friendly Bharata Natya repertoire” by Dr. Mamata Niyogi-Nakra. The book contains a DVD showing the choreographies of all the items of a classic Bharata Natya repertoire, conceived for children. The book describes the process of conception and production and the thinking that went into it.
Beside the teaching and practice of child-friendly pieces of the dance form, research was carried out to study the value of dance in child development that has resulted in the publication of the book “PLACE FOR DANCE IN WHOLE-CHILD EDUCATION” BY Dr. Harbans Nakra.
Both the books mentioned above have been published by Kala Bharat and information on how to obtain copies can be had by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.