Dance Dance

In lockdown, Hyderabad classical dancers teach digitally

Vyshnavie Sainath Yagnesh teaching at home   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

As the lockdown continues in a bid to curb the novel Coronavirus pandemic, classical dance teachers in Hyderabad stay connected with their students through online classes. It is easier for musicians, singers and instrumentalists to hold live performances or take classes online but teaching dance is a challenge. Here, classical dancers Yamini Reddy, Vyshnavie Sainath Yagnesh and Kiranmayee Madupu share their experiences.

Creative outlet

Yamini Reddy teaching her students at home

Yamini Reddy teaching her students at home   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

Dancer Yamini Reddy reluctantly joined the digital teaching sphere. “I am not fond of online classes but in this situation, it is our creative outlet,” she says. After a few trial and error classes, the sessions on Zoom app began with senior students and now juniors have also joined in. “Not everyone is self motivated and self disciplined to practice dance on their own. So they require a teacher’s presence to make them practice; it improves their stamina and keeps them physically and mentally active.”

Her approach was to develop an easy method so that online learning isn’t challenging for her disciples. With a bit of researching and teaching, she adapted to the digital platform. “I took some time to understand and find a right platform where my students are able to see me and I am able to see them clearly. Dance is not about listening and cannot be taught online the way you do in your regular classes.”

Her online sessions are for an hour where she teaches them a piece with mudras. “As they practice on their own, I have to do a lot more homework imagining where they can go wrong with steps.” There are some funny moments too during their online classes. Yamini shares, “On screen, sometimes the heads get cut off and sometimes their feet. I constantly tell them to adjust so that I can see their head and face.” Once the classes are over, the group takes 10 minutes to relax and have fun before they disconnect. Yamini calls the online classes a temporary bridge. “These online classes are good for me also as it keeps me busy; they are my family and I miss seeing and talking to them.”

To mark Ramnavami
  • Are you one of those who is missing out on going to concerts and watching performances? Here is a little something to lift your spirits during this lockdown. Yamini Reddy is celebrating Ramnavami on April 2 at 6.30 pm by telecasting a short recording of her performance of ‘Tulasidas Ramayan’, choreographed by her parents and gurus Raja and Radha Reddy. Watch it on Yamini Reddy’s YouTube channel,
  • user/yamrd82

At home with dance

Vyshnavie Sainath shifts regularly between Zoom and Google Hangouts to connect to her students. “The big advantage of teaching online is that many of amma’s (dancer Rajeshwari Sainath) students who have settled abroad have reconnected.” Everyday there are five batches, thrice a week to accommodate classical dance enthusiasts through different time zones. Joined by her team member Jayalakshmi Narayanan, the duo share the screens — from a batch learning adavus and slightly advanced segment to a group honing their alaripu, jati swaram and varnams.

She was initially apprehensive of how the online classes will take off. “Although the kids were enthusiastic they would look at the screen and get easily distracted. I have to come up with different methods to get them to focus at the screen.” One of Vyshnavie’s friends is joining the online sessions from Germany. “She was anxious of the current scenario and was living with fear. Now by connecting through dance, she feels positive, motivated and knows she is not alone. She looks forward to the one-hour session.”

With many apps for the classical art, Vyshnavie hopes to create a real-time experience for the students. “I am taking feedback from those who have signed in for the online classes so that I can make it a more student-teacher journey rather than just learning dance online. I want to see how I can be available to them on a real time basis and grow with them in their journey.”

Connecting through dance online brings in a different experience. “We feel we all are at home and it’s also a huge step for the language of art.”

Easy to shoot videos

Three days before the start of Janata curfew, dancer Kiranmayee Madupu called one of her senior students home to shoot a dance session. “We sent these dance videos to 35 students so that they can practice,” she says. Kiranmayee prefers teaching through WhatsApp videos over Zoom or Skype as they are hassle-free and easier to shoot. “The students watch and learn, and when they practice, their parents shoot their videos and send it back to me so that I can give feedback,” she says.

Kiranmayee Madupu with her student

Kiranmayee Madupu with her student   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

A mother of an eight-month-old baby, Kiranmayee feels these videos are the best way to stay connected with her students mostly between the ages of 6 and 12 years. She also uploads series of videos on Instagram. “As these are small children, the parents play a major role by playing my video and then sending back the video they shot at home. It may not be perfect but the bigger deal is to stay safe at home. It is a welcome change for parents who thrive on these schedules to keep them busy.” She admits traditional dance cannot be tutored. “That is why it takes a toll. Otherwise we wouldn’t have so many dance schools in the first place. One needs ‘gurumukham’ — a teacher in front of you to tell you what is wrong. we are missing out on it.”

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Printable version | Jun 12, 2021 11:16:19 PM |

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