Gurus of classical Indian dance forms such as Geeta Chandran (Bharatanatyam), Kaushalya Reddy (Kuchipudi), Shovana Narayan (Kathak), Mahua Shankar (Kathak), and many other doyens have taken the digital route to continue teaching their dance forms amid the ongoing lockdown. Their introduction to the world of teaching dance via video calling, can possibly be termed as a first-time-ever phenomenon, considering many confess to have never been so tech forward.
But, when it came to staying in touch with their students, in the time of Covid-19 pandemic, these gurus didn’t bow down to any challenges posed by technology!
Guru Kaushalya Reddy (Kuchipudi), who is otherwise upset over missing her regular supply of ice cream and pastry due to the lockdown, is glad that she gets to meet her students, virtually, every day. “We were apprehensive in the beginning to conduct online classes, but my daughter wanted us to take this step and it’s amazing. I’m connected to my students form across the globe now! The idea is to keep the passion of dance alive, and in the present situation it’s a good exercise both mentally and physically. Initially we had some doubts, but it’s not so difficult. My former students from Canada, America, Singapore, London and other countries are also back through video practice. Further, parents are also a part of it now and are happy, which has a positive effect on us,” says Reddy.
In this day and age, the digital challenges can be quite daunting for these dance exponents who have been traditionally teaching their pupils. Kathak guru, Shovana Narayan shares how she faced those challenges in the beginning: “I’m not used to using Zoom mobile app, and yet I arranged all the necessary connectivity, signed in, and scheduled the classes. On the first day, I logged in as a guest rather than a host, and yet took a session for 40 minutes! Now, I know how to do it properly and have been conducting classes everyday. I also have to deal with time lapse in these video classes, but I feel very connected when I see my girls from all over the country. In these times, we are learning new things.”
“One has to put in more efforts and creativity in the virtual medium. We have evolved our classes to be more like workout sessions as children are becoming couch potatoes…” — Geeta Chandran, Bharatanatyam exponent
But, it isn’t a piece of cake to teach an art form so complicated, without any physical presence. Guru Geeta Chandran (Bharatanatyam) says the beauty of these times is that she has been able to bond with not just her students, but even their families. “We have been taking online classes for over a month now, and it’s a testing time for teachers. One has to put in more efforts and creativity in the virtual medium. We have evolved our classes to be more like workout sessions as children are becoming couch potatoes, and I’m also giving them little projects to do at home. We also discuss other issues and conduct counselling sessions. I’m also getting to learn this way, and it’s interesting,” adds Chandran.
Danseuse Mahua Shankar (Kathak) agrees that it’s the right time to create new things. She says, “All my students from various parts of the country are connected with me this way, and I’m also learning with them. Online training comes with its own challenges. There are many delicate moves, body language, and facial expressions that can’t be communicated clearly through video sessions. But it’s better to continue our classes rather than doing nothing at all.”
Author tweets @ruchikagarg271
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