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Dancing to knowledge

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Creating awareness: About one’s self and social issues.
Creating awareness: About one’s self and social issues.

MADHUMITHA SRINIVASAN

Kids use performing arts as an empowering tool!

Learning music and dance need not just help you pass time, but it can also empower you. And so believe the people at the Aseema Trust, an organisation that ‘aims at bridging arts, artists, and education in an ever-expanding network’. In tune with its ideology, the organisation initiated the “Using traditional performing arts as empowering tool for young girls” project at Avvai Home and TVR Girls School, the Avvai Teacher Training Institute, Navbharath Matriculation School and SOS Children’s Village. The project aims at using arts to increase awareness about one’s self as well as social issues.

Enchanting

As a part of the project, the students were taught Bharatnatyam and other dance forms beginning from June 2007. The academic year-long effort was there for all to witness at a performance at the Museum Theatre recently where confidence and bright smiles were in abundance. The programme began with a prayer song and was followed by bharatnatyam performance. The girls danced to a song that when translated meant — ‘our life is in our hands’.

The next performance was a koothu, the theme of which was based on the ideas drawn from the girls themselves by way of group discussions. The energetic performance started with a maypole dance to the tune of a song that communicated the idea that life is a chakram (circle). The girls then enacted the plight of women and emphasised on the need for bravery, education and self-confidence. The performance also featured a formation where girls arranged themselves one on top of the other and chased away the men who slighted their progress. Then there was the traditional kolattam followed by the rhythm-packed Thappattam by the boys of Navbharath Matriculation School.

The project was evaluated by World Education using pre and post assessments, group discussions and case studies. And not surprisingly, the kids have shown an increased awareness about gender values, options available to them in life, the importance of goals and a majority also agreed on the need for sex education in schools.

Speaking about the visible changes seen in the girls after the project, Lalita Devi, teacher at the Navbharath School says, “The girls who usually turn up late to school are now coming early just to attend the dance classes which are conducted in the morning. They are also more active and are able to concentrate better.”

Now this is certainly a kind of holistic education that Gandhi hoped that children would

receive.


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