Saturday 11 May 2019

Arts in whole-child education - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

An excellent symposium at the IIC (which as collaborator provided the venue) mounted by Kri Foundation and Kala Bharati (Montreal) on Arts Education for Youngsters, presided over by Arshiya Sethi, resulted in some valuable interaction on a topic which is crying out for intelligent discussion among the art minded and artists. Dr. Sunil Kothari in his paper drew attention to the path breaking work done by late Dr. Harbans Nakra, an electrical engineer by profession, who took private studies in psychology, neuroscience and who was very interested on the role of dance in child development. Along with his wife Mamata Niyogi Nakra, an internationally known Bharatanatyam guru, scholar and writer (who runs the institution Kala Bharati in Montreal) who was also deeply interested in dance education for youngsters, the couple attended and took part in several Dance and the Child International Conferences. 

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1 comment:

  1. I am very pleased to read the article by Ms. Leela Venkataraman. the well known dance critic , on the round table discussion titled "Stairways to Happiness". held at India International Centre on the 12th of April. By covering the event , a person of her calibre and stature has given the event the importance it deserves. She has even gone back to the roots and covered the contributions of Dr. Harbans and Dr. Mamata Niyogi Nakra in this field.

    This subject has been of great interest to me and i have been working on it for some time now. I have also known about the ' Stairways to Happiness" program undertaken by Kala Bharati for the last one and a half year.

    The event at India International Centre was based on the pathbreaking work being carried out at Kala Bharati in Montreal regarding the role that dance and other performing arts and creative activities play in the development of multiple intelligences, social skills, physical and mental well-being. The day long event started in the morning at 10:30 am , by Dr Arshiya Sethi , who was the Moderator, with a brief introduction to the subjects and how the proceedings will unfold. She was followed by Mrs. Asha Dhawan who has not only been associated with Kala Bharati since its inception in Montreal but who was also one of the first students to learn Bharatnatyam at Kala Bharati . She spoke of her own experience about transformation that dance has brought in her and her daughter's life.

    This was followed by a brief overview by Dr. Mamata Niyogi Nakra about the work that has been carried out at Kala Bharati for over nearly four decades and particularly on the topic of Stairways to Happiness program in the last two years.The next speaker Mr. Anil Wadhwa , who is in the process of writing a companion edition of the book titled " Place of dance in whole child education- a scientific perspective " written by Dr. Harbans Nakra to make it accessible and an easy reading for a lay reader , spoke about the circumstances and joyful experiences he went through in reading the original book and how he came about writing the companion edition. Mr. Anoop Wadhwa who has been associated with " Happy thoughts" shared his experiences about how the schools in Delhi were giving importance to the happiness quotient in the curriculum for children.

    This was followed by two detailed and very interesting powerpoint presentations by Dr. Elavarasan, a renowned doctor of Siddha school of medicine who is currently in the role of Siddha Consultant in Ayush Wellness Clinic at Rashtrapati Bhawan , New Delhi and Dr. Samanta Datta, a doctor and professor of Ayurveda based in Kolkata. Both the doctors through their presentations gave concrete examples and testimonials to demonstrate as to how Classical Indian dance through its movements and mudras regulates the flow of energy and activates various pressure points in the body thereby proving to be an effective medium in curing mental and physical illnesses amongst children and in improving their intelligence and mental faculties thereby helping in their overall well being and development and enabling a healthy body and mind with a smile on the face.

    This took us to the lunch break. The post lunch speakers included Mr. Elangovan, Mr. Shubhendra Rao, Ms. Sharbari Mukherjee of NCERT and Irshad of the Talent group. Leela Venkataraman ji arrived around lunch and has in her report covered the post lunch session in greater detail for which i am deeply thankful to her.

    This subject is of great interest to me and I have been following have been involved in the progress of various activities and projects of Kala Bharati under Stairways to Happiness , a project inspired by Dr. Harbans Nakra.

    I am working on a detailed report on day long round table discussion held on the 12 th April which will also include my own area of study of effects of dance and Pranic (Energy) Healing in achieving bliss.