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Special considerations for training children
by Dr. Mamata Niyogi-Nakra

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sarav

Posts: 5
Location: Montreal, Canada

PostPost title: Special considerations for training children
Posted: Wed 07 Jan, 2004 9:04 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.

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Context
A program of Bharata Natya training for children must of necessity take into consideration
    1. Their physical capabilities.
    2. The level of their emotional development.
    3. Its contribution to their mental development.
    4. Their special needs for sustaining interest in the learning process.


Objectives of Bharata Natya training for children
Taking into account the above context, the objectives of a program of Bharata Natya training for children can be listed as
    1. To impart training in the basic elements of Bharata Natya and prepare for more advanced Bharata Natya training.
    2. To develop and sustain interest in learning Bharata Natya to a higher level.
    3. To use the training process as a tool for cultural education.
    4. To use the training process as a tool for the physical and psychological development of the child.


Methodology
Considering the context, the training program must be so structured as to permit the teaching and learning to be graded. This could be done in three phases:
    • Primary
    • Elementary
    • Secondary

In the primary phase (4 – 6 years, Kinkini level at Kala Bharati), the program can be such that it allows the child to work on certain aspects that do not require stamping. Such a program could include
    i. Developing a sense of rhythm and music.
    ii. Working with simple hastas, using them for interactive story telling and enactment.
    iii. Activities to match the child’s ability to relate to simple emotional situations.
    iv. Games and play activities such as described in notebooks Nritya Lekha-s I & II.

In the elementary phase (7-9 years, Adi level at Kala Bharati) stamping could be introduced gradually. The program would include
    i. Introduction to the various foot positions.
    ii. Introduction to the basic stances.
    iii. Work on simple Adavus and continuing the development of the sense of rhythm.
    iv. Working on an extended range of hastas with some training in their use.
    v. Story telling with greater emotional awareness and understanding. Introduction to the child-friendly repertoire Shishu-Sadhana.
    vi. Simple projects for increasing cultural awareness.

In the secondary phase (10-13 years, Mukula level at Kala Bharati), the work would include
    a) Teaching of the full range of Adavus, various hand gestures and facial expressions and their uses.
    b) Teaching a full range of age appropriate items (e.g. Shishu Sadhana), including Varna and Tillana.
    c) Exposure to Bharata Natya theory, history.
    d) Performance practice and exposure to professional performances.
    e) Assignment of creativity projects – short choreographies on given subjects.

Beyond the secondary stage, at about the age of 14 years, all constraints of childhood are lifted and the training can proceed towards a Ranga Pravesh in all its vigorous and exacting demands.

The attainment of objectives 3 and 4 follows more-or-less automatically from the training program of the basic elements (objective 1). However the teacher does need to be conscious of these objectives and where necessary orient the work to emphasize these aspects.

Note:
Student groupings at Kala Bharati (from junior to senior):
    • Kinkini
    • Adi,Anjali
    • Mukula
    • Padmakosha
    • Alapadma
    • Nrityanjali

Points to ponder
At what age to start serious training;
How to find age appropriate material;
Strengthening the Indian dance component at Dance and the Child international conferences.
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