Dance

A book on classical dances for children

Parwati Dutta's book, Nrithya Gatha  

Parwati Dutta is amongst our most versatile, imaginative and innovative dancers and choreographers. She set up Mahagami Gurukul in Aurangabad and has been spearheading dance training, awareness and sensitisation programmes in some of the remotest pockets of the country.

Trained in Kathak and Odissi by exponents such as Pt. Birju Maharaj, Kelucharan Mohapatra and Madhavi Mudgal, her choreographies embody the rigour of research and the convergence of art with philosophy.

Parwati Dutta has recently authored Nritya Gatha, an illustrated children’s book on Indian classical dance forms. . Excerpts from an interview.

What led to ‘Nritya Gatha’ and how was it conceived?

I have been involved in the dissemination of Indian traditions for almost 25 years. Having worked closely with various people from marginalised regions, I realised that the content must be interesting to draw people from different backgrounds. For children, the only dance-related books available are those meant for students taking dance exams. That was when I thought of a book on Indian dance for children, which can inform and attract them to the art. This has been a long cherished wish. Nritya Gatha is like a picture book on the classical dances of India. The simple narrative and attractive illustrations are meant to arouse their interest.

What are your views on dance education in this country and how can one take this debate out of the confines of schools and institutions and make it mainstream?

The concept of dance education has not been properly understood in India. The content being taught in dance classes should be reviewed by respective teachers and emphasis should be on creative and imaginative development rather than mere transmission of dance content.

I have started outreach programmes for schools through Mahagami Gurukul that aims at cultural development. Dance should be viewed and understood in the wider context and it’s ever-expansive scope should be realised. Nurturing intuitive knowledge, nourishing imagination and refining one's creativity should be the aim.

The challenges you encountered while writing the book?

Dance is a complex subject, and an inclusive art. The biggest challenge was to simplify it without loosing the essence. I wanted to create some characters through whom a few elements of each dance could be shared with a young reader. It added a narrative touch, instead of making it a straightforward informative book. The illustrations were thought out and showed children in dance poses of the different forms. I developed the script keeping in mind the curiosity, desire to dance and the cognitive qualities of children between 5 and 10 years. To break the gender bias, I included images of boys and girls in every section.

Is there a dearth of scholarly, informed writing on the subject in India in recent times? Also, don't adults need a similar book?

I am told that this is probably the first book on Indian classical dance for children. . Although, the target readers are children, the book is also for parents and other adult members of the family. And, yes adults require similar books too.

Name your favourite books on Indian classical dance?

I love books with esoteric content. I like the writings of Kapila Vatsyayan and S. K. Saxena, who has aphilosophical interpretation of various concepts.

What are your plans for outreach, and to make the book available to every child?

I plan to conduct dance sessions for schools and children’s groups and share the message of Indian Dance Heritage. Written in English, the book will be available in Hindi and Marathi too. I will begin work soon on a Bengali translation also. I hope to make the book available online and create visibility on online bookstores.

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Printable version | Jan 15, 2021 10:26:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/dance/a-book-on-classical-dances-for-children/article8590129.ece

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