Dance as therapy

For a healthy life  

VYJAYANTHI KASHI, Director, Shambavi School of Dance, is going places. She will be off soon to Seoul in South Korea to make a presentation at the International Festival and Symposium on "The Role of Healing in Asia-Pacific Peforming Arts" to be held from November 25.

A well-known Kuchipudi exponent and dance therapist, she has been invited to represent India at this event. UNESCO is among the organisers. She is considered a pioneer in dance therapy and is devoted to helping children with special needs. She has conducted thought-provoking therapeutic workshops for special educators, therapists, mental health professionals, universities, and special needs institutions, in India and abroad.

Through her innovative choreography, she has conceived and efficiently executed therapeutic theatre projects which have been widely acclaimed. She tries to infuse new, creative energy into every project, critics have said. Her focus is to promote awareness of therapeutic theatre/dance projects as a form of effective therapy for the physically and mentally challenged, the visually and hearing impaired, emotionally disturbed, and for special needs for different sections of people.

In 2000, Vyjayanthi directed a major dance therapy project, "Unity is Bliss", for the mentally and physically challenged. This project threw up remarkable possibilities for dealing with children who have special needs. A series of five performances were held. Many in the audience were moved to tears.

In 2001, she presented "Women-The Ultimate" for the hearing and visually impaired children. According to one critic, this production left the audience enthralled as well as puzzled. Thrilled by the sheer beauty and grace of the dance and puzzled because the performers were children who couldn't hear the music and couldn't see; yet were in perfect harmony and excelled in bringing out the deepest emotion. Last year, she produced "Awake", a dance and theatre project with street children which was an exhilarating experience for 52 such children.

The Performing Arts Network, Asia-Pacific, promotes cooperation in performing arts of the region, seeking creation of a worldwide platform for this unique cultural identity. It promotes cross-cultural and inter-disciplinary understanding, develops rigorous strategies for that, reflects the nuances of cultural differences, and fosters new ways to experiment, collaborate, and interpret artistic expressions.

The first conference, "A New Challenge for the Continuation of Traditional and Contemporary Creation of Performing Arts in the Asia-Pacific Region", was held in 2000 in Seoul with 17 countries participating. The second conference, with the theme "Journey to the East", was held the next year in New Delhi. The third, "Into the Sacred Waters: Symposium on the Body and Mind Traditions", was also held in India. The fourth was in Seoul and the fifth in Rishikesh.

By Satyamurty K