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There are several benefits for children learning Bharatnatyam and other traditional dance forms
A small yet culturally vibrant city, Adelaide boasts quite a few options for learning Bharatnatyam. Some of the prominent teachers include Jayanthi Natarajan, Dr Khurshid Shroff, Harnie Kumaraguru, Vinaya Rai, Priya Ramesh and Vithya Kathigesu from the Temple of Fine Arts. There are regular shows at the temples and community and recreation centres, which garner a good amount of interest in the local Indian community.
Narthana, a dance event organised by the Temple of Fine Arts was held at the Parks Community Centre in late September. This is an annual event showcasing the skills of the students. Parents, relatives and other dance enthusiasts formed the audience and it was a heart-warming performance.
Teachers Vithya and Saisha performed too, along with their students, adding to the enjoyment of the audience.
The rich dress, jewellery, alluring make-up and the dances themselves, formed a potent combination, with the students giving their best to the stage. There was Bharatnatyam, Odisi and some lighter dances by the younger children.
There are several benefits for children learning Bharatnatyam and other traditional dance forms.
A dance form with a vigorous training regimen, when one gets into Bharatnatyam seriously, it requires the use of the entire body and face. It corrects the posture and strengthens the limbs, muscles and every part of the body, and internal organs. Confidence in one’s own body is nurtured, which pays huge dividends as children go through adolescence. Circulation and breathing are also improved.
Originating in the temples of Tamil Nadu, Bharatnatyam is universally loved today. Usually an interpretative narration of Hindu mythology and spiritual texts, it is a pathway to absorbing and owning the stories that are so much a part of our cultural fabric. Children act out the mythology and history and gradually develop an understanding of their roots.
Our children begin to develop a sense of pride in their heritage and India as a country, a nation which has given the world so much by way of art, philosophy, culture and spirituality. This instills a sense of national pride which, along with other activities, can form the foundation of a strong personality that can stand tall in the face of anything. Children may share their heritage and skills with others, finding a sense of enjoyment in their diverse background.
The word is much touted today and, even if it has almost become cliché, the truth is this is the one gift each of us needs to give our children. As the material and techno savvy world races on, prying our consciousness away from us and into gadgets, the need to learn ways to just BE has become urgent. While dancing, a child or an adult is brought right into the present moment and into the body, with clarity and beauty. The child dwells in the actions, the footwork and expressions of Bharatnatyam. Without their knowledge, they learn the art of relaxation and ease.
For those looking for high academic results, dance training brings rich rewards. Classical dancers are generally exceptional students in any field of study. They must learn the skills of practice, discipline and memorisation which are all applicable to the world of academia.
So, come on mums and dads and see if you can get your children into a Bharatnatyam dance class and reap rich dividends. Or you might even decide to join a class yourself!