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Teaching Bharata Natya outside the country of origin
by Dr. Mamata Niyogi-Nakra

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Location: Montreal, Canada

PostPost title: Teaching Bharata Natya outside the country of origin
Posted: Wed 07 Jan, 2004 8:46 pm
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Note from the moderator: The following is an outline of the points involved in the teaching of Bharata Natya outside India. It was distributed to the participants of the Summer Residency Course in 2003. Please feel free to comment on any of the points mentionned below.


Defining the context
    Typical student profile:
      (a) Children of Indian parentage (entry age level 4-10 years).
      (b) Special interest students from other cultural backgrounds (entry age level 18-25 years).

    Typical teacher profile:
      i. Trained in India
      ii. Trained outside India

    Of students in group:
      1) Familiarization with Indian culture
      2) Socialising with others of same age and background and involvement with the community.

    Of all students:
      3) Learning the art for the sake of the art.
      4) Graduation.
      5) Performing and teaching.

    Of the teacher:
      i. Teaching of Bharata Natya technique and aesthetics.
      ii. Providing background information on the dance, including literature and music.
      iii. Teaching the cultural tradition of Bharata Natya including notions of respect, and the various ways of expressing it, of worship and ‘bhakti’ and of personal discipline and dedication (‘sadhana’).
      iv. Motivating the student to excel in the art and express pride in it.
      v. Provide opportunities for performance.
      vi. Promote the art in the mainstream community through lecture-demonstrations, workshops and performances
        a) in schools
        b) in community centers
        c) in public auditoriums

      vii. Keeping abreast of developments in the field and constant upgrading of knowledge by
        a) Attending meetings of dancers and dance scholars
        b) Reading and watching

    1. Define a curriculum that takes a student from the age of four or five to the Ranga Pravesh or Arangetram.
    2. Develop a school type environment away from home basements.
    3. Choose studios with good floors for teaching dance.
    4. Organize the students into groups by age and by competence.
    5. Insist on practice at home.
    6. Conduct examinations at regular intervals and also have spot checks in the classroom.
    7. Have intensive courses in the holidays.
    8. Assign projects for which students can do their own reading and research.
    9. Organize performances:
      • in the dance school environment with parents and friends as the audience
      • in public venues

    10. Use performances to educate the audiences with notes and mime with explanations.
    11. Keep students informed of the latest developments in the field.
    12. Invite guest speakers or teachers for special workshops.
    13. Encourage students to attend dance performances by visiting artists
    14. Insist on high quality : with discipline and hard work it is possible

Points to ponder
Post Ranga Pravesh
Dance as a career?
Dance as a hobby or passion?
Dance related careers:
    1. dance research
    2. dance in education and child development
    3. dance in therapy:
      • mind body coordination
      • emotional support
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