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Natyarambha: A digital step ahead

Ananda Shankar Jayant Photo: G RAMAKRISHNA  

“We live in an age where we sleep and wake up to videos on our phones and laptops. We talk of digital India and this is my first step towards promoting our roots,” is what noted Bharatanatyam dancer Ananda Shankar has to say, a week post Natyarambha, her digital dance practice platform has gone live. She insists it is not a downloadable mobile app, but a web-based application.

Screenshot of Natyarambha

Screenshot of Natyarambha  

How does this make an application and not a website? “The platform here is an interactive one that circumvents distinctions for Android-enabled devices and iPhones. We made Natyarambha for a young audience and didn’t want to trouble them whenever there is an upgrade,” says Ananda about the annual subscription-based platform. It’s a step ahead from DVDs which she feels have become an extinct species now. “Even if you buy one, it is a static medium. You never know if a student would revisit it sometime later. Interaction sans baggage is the way ahead. I’m not advising students to catch their phones and get to Natyarambha, yet you could place your mobile in a corner and have your way.” With higher net penetration speeds each day, and options ranging from laptop to tablet to bigger phones, Natyarambha is free of barriers, made for a crowd that caters both to the basic and tech savvy user.

From adavus, basic movements adhering to the Kalakshetra pedagogy for teachers and students, also helping those who want to get back to Bharatanatyam after a sabbatical, Natyarambha builds a bridge between classroom and home practice. “Given styles and teaching patterns vary across gurus and if our demonstrations don’t work for a student, they can switch off the video option and get hold of pnemonics (that remain universal across styles),” she adds. Instead of the regular mridangam and nattuvangam, there’s an instrumental music backdrop to enhance the appeal of the videos. “Another significant decision I made about Natyarambha is the decision of not having a review option, I wouldn’t want to come in between a guru and a shishya. Learning is wholesome with a guru and the platform only sharpens the edges.” Natyarambha promises to traverse barriers and build a global dancer community that shares a similar passion for Bharatanatyam. “I also have plans to bring in several other styles of the dance form. I welcome other Bharatanatyam dancers to share their inputs for the long haul,” she signs off.

For a wider reach

Sneha Magapu with Ananda Shankar

Sneha Magapu with Ananda Shankar  

We wanted to cater to an international audience. The devices used across countries vary, that’s when the decision to keep Natyarambha browser-based came about. That gave us challenges to build something that works across any browser, unlike an app that follows a particular standard, you know how to build it. Classical dance community may not be necessarily tech-savvy, so Natyarambha’s interface was kept basic and yet artistic. There’s a particular taste that learners acquire in terms of aesthetics, it was fused with available user-interface designs. As a result, designs (done by a non-techie team) comprising deep colours form a backdrop to Natyarambha. Ananda ma’am trusted my instincts all the way. Given time and the budget, there’s a lot of dance theory that can make its way to Natyarambha.-

Sneha Magapu, Natyarambha Project Lead (also a student of Ananda Shankar)

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Printable version | Apr 17, 2021 11:48:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/internet/Natyarambha-A-digital-step-ahead/article17123085.ece

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