‘Natya Chintana’- A meaningful workshop on Natya Shastra

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As everyone knows, Bharatha’s Natya Shastra is the main root of all the art forms. But unfortunately, today in dance schools, institutions which teach Bharathanatyam, the consciousness of Natya Shastra is lacking. This is because of the Desi traditional dance forms like Bharathanatyam, Kuchipudi etc., which are so called today as Classical Dance forms have minimized the application of the important elements of Natya Shastra and have been influenced much by the other scriptures or texts. So, it is hard to found the performance/workshops which aims to deal with theoretical aspects mentioned in Natya Shastra and making them to implement effectively within their dance educational limit. And that too which is equally and strongly useful and educative to small kids, students and teachers simultaneously! All these queries found a proper answer in ‘Natya Chintana’ workshop which was held in Puttur from April 20th to 26th. This project was jointly organized by Noopura Bhramari (R.) and Sri Mookambika Cultural Academy (R.), Puttur.

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Noopura Bhramari (R.), – one of the premier institutions of research and publication in India, proposes to address a long felt, un-spelt academic need. This is devoted exclusively to the promotion of publication, advanced research and scholarship on Dance and allied arts as well as to developing requisite resources in Art for research in all the areas of human endeavor including the sciences. It has many wings such as Dance Research, Publication and Promotion, Research guidance etc. Since last 8 years Noopura Bhramari is organizing varieties of programs and conducting seminars, workshops, publication which contributes for the arena of Dance and allied art forms. Thus the organisation is itself called as -Circumnavigation to the world of Dance. Danseuse, director, actor, editor, writer, trustee, researcher, main correspondent of State and National Level Dance Research Conference –Mrs. Manorama B N is the leading personality in this Trust.

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Likewise Sri Mookambika Cultural Academy (R.) based in Puttur is an academy of family of artistes. Vidwan B. Deepak Kumar is the Director and the main tutor of this academy. His wife Mrs. Preethikala who is a Vidushi in both Bharathanatyam and Karnatic Music and Deepak’s younger brother Vidwan B. Girish Kumar assist in conducting dance and music classes in different parts of Dakshina Kannada district. Choreographing many ballets, conducting Rangapraveshas of numerous talented students, hosting and organizing various Festivals related to fine arts in rural place, performances (solo, duet and troupe) in different platforms of international, national and state level prestigious stages, recognition of the students in state and national level competitions and scholarships, numerous awards and felicitations and so on are the achievements of this Academy. Academy also extended its interests in social field by arranging social welfare programs like Anti-plastic campaign, planting of trees in many public places and arranging for lecture demonstrations on such topics and choreographing ballets relating to environmental education. Moreover the academy strives in clubbing students, guardians and society through various agenda.

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The above two institutions clubbed together their thoughts which paved way for a new project, i.e., ‘Natya Chintana” workshop.

Natya Chintana– the concept and the ideology itself a very new to the Art world of coastal Karnataka. Not only it has given the wave of freshness in every stage of understanding ‘Natya’; but also it has become the platform for a new literature and poetry concerning with the Natya Shastra and revolution in the art of Choreography. The totality of workshop has given the example to handle a programme with all the prosperity and guidelines in handing over such knowledge to the future generation.

‘Natya Chintana’ workshop was inaugurated in Puttur Muliya Auditorium by Jayceerett President Smt. Ashwini Krishna Muliya. On this occasion as a special programme Noopura Bhramari’s special annual edition which was recognized as India’s first and only research journal with prestigious ISSN No. was released. Proceeding further the first day of the week observed a lecture demonstration and full pledged performance by Bangalore based Guru Dr. Shobha Shashikumar who is a well known performer, first person in Karnataka to study Karana-Angahara and using that education in her Doctorate on the topic ‘ The harmony of Angika and Satvika Abhinaya of Bharathanatya’. Dr. Shobha was assisted by her disciples Kum. Arathi Velan and Smt. Megha Krishna, in portraying the Angika aspects of Natya Shastra. It is to be noted that this is the first attempt in coastal Karnataka to experiment programs of this kind.

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The evening was a proper repertoire by Dr. Shobha Shashikumar which extended to almost 3 hours and made the spectators to explore the world of Rasaanubhava. Dr. Shobha presented 10 numbers which was weaved with the harmonious blending of Karana-Angahara with the proper usage of Angopanga samanvaya on the basis of Alankara Shastra and made the viewers to experience in that extent, so that the joy which brought tears in their eyes! Of them 7 was derived from poetry of Kannada literature; the compositions of saint Purandaradasa, D.V.G., Kuvempu, Shathavadhani Dr. R. Ganesh which took the beautified form of ‘real classical dance’. Dr. Shobha gave a strong new outlook to all the Nrityabandhas by effectively balancing the Nrittha and the literature of songs with aesthetics. The Uddhatha i.e., powerful and Sukumara i.e., graceful aspects of dance was beautifully distinguished and portrayed in regular dances like Kauthvam, Jathiswara and Thillana also.

Usually in any dance workshops the resource person will teach any item number/s and make the participants to perform them at the end of the sessions. But Natya Chintana’s idea was totally different; here daily, there was lecture on tales of Natya Shastra and after that the participants were made to choreograph themselves on the topic taught. Guidelines were given to the participants on different modes of choreography and the handling of stories. The participants were classified according to their age, skill, interest and grasping power. Manorama B.N. who wrote the script specially for this workshop, did not only aimed solely for this project; but it has become a special contribution in giving a simpler scripts related to Natya Shastra for the dance explorers in Kannada language; by this, the lack of script in Kannada related to Natya Shastra was solved and credit goes to Manorama in making it readily available for performance. Like the rhythm section was guided by Guru Vidwan Deepak Kumar by composing Jathis or Shollukattus or Nades whichever was apt for the situation. Vidushi Preethikala gave her contribution by providing music to the scripts, Swaras, alapanas etc., whichever was needed at that point of Choreography. Even Vidwan Girish Kumar guided the small kids in making their choreography the best. It is to be noted here is – all these activities happened on spot in extempore according to the needs of the students. This was the special talent of the resource persons from both the institutions.

Likewise, it was noteworthy to point out the enthusiasm of the participants. Their talent was untwined on the 7th day when their final presentation was done in front of public. Even professional artistes were spellbound looking at the beautiful choreographies of the students. Everything was very clear, with aesthetics and filled with proper amount of emotions i.e., Rasa-Bhava where nothing went unexplained or vague and the audience understood, enjoyed every single moment of the performance where actual motto of Art was fulfilled. The costumes were also planned and decided by students themselves according to their concepts and indeed it was a good attempt.

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Children starting from the age of 8 years upto 25 years youth participated. Candidates of different caliber like beginners, Juniors, Seniors, one who passed even Vidwat exams, students from different styles/schools of learning participated with full interest. Aesthetics was highlighted inspite of the diverse styles of presentation from the students of different backgrounds. That showed the strong homework done by the organizers. The repeated request by the guardians/parents after the workshop to conduct such kind of projects frequently in future showed the success and impact of the workshop.

Unfortunately in these days, the declined trend of narrating stories by the elders has curbed the imagination capacity of today’s generation. Noticing this factor, workshop has aimed at solving the problem by narrating stories of Natyashastra and other purana’s along with its connection to dance and aesthetics. Not only this, but also encouraging children to develop their imagining capacity so that they would implement the stories in their choreography was the key factor behind the success of workshop. Resource persons has prepared the participants in that extent, so that they themselves decided the plot to be choreographed, the swaras/jatis needed, pattern/mode of choreography and distribution of the characters. You believe it or not, These were happened immediately after the lecture ! Participants came with clear thought that what should they project in their choreographies ! They use to discuss thoroughly among themselves and the contacted the resource persons to get the ultimate output.

Along with several Lecture demonstrations, discussions, 16 different dance choreographies were presented by the students. At the end of the workshop the main story chapters of Natyashastra like Natyotpati, Apsarasrushti, Prathama NatyaPrayoga, Jarjara, Dima, Samavakara, Avanaddha Vaadya Nirmana, Vruttivikalpa, etc took the beautiful form on the stage.

What not children has learned? Many things ! – Natyashastra, concept of Rasa, Auchitya, the preparation for implementing the concepts, mode of work for the aesthetics, the path to enhance the impact of storyline, and henceforth materializing those elements in uplifting the values of life. As said by the participants- “It was fun, enriching, enlightening, entertaining, enthusiastic, educative –altogether in this workshop. There were no restrictions or conditions in applying our thoughts. It is not a simple narration of stories. But, it has given various dimenstion to look through the world of Life and also Dance. This kind listening to the stories was really new to us which we never experienced before. Stories have created a new imaginary world in our mind and we were eagerly waiting to materialize those in our choreography. We need such kinds of workshop very frequently which would provide stuff to our Manodharma’.

On the Valedictory day theatre person, actor, poet, scholar, Yakshagana script writer, director of ‘Ramakatha’ rupaka Vidwan Korgi Shankaranarayana Upadhyaya gave a lecture on the topic ‘Abhinaya’. In totality, Manorama B.N supported for story narration/Lyrics, Vidushi Preetikala in vocal, Vidwan Deepak Kumar and Girish Kumar was in Natuvanga. Bhavani Shankar and Vishnuprasad Niddaje co-operated in the organizing the event. Muliya Jewels Puttur and Hindustan Promoters and Developers sponsored the event.

This unique workshop has given very good example and criteria in organizing an event in which the Bharata’s Natyashastra can be reached the children as well as elders also. Naatya Chintana given new boom to the field by surpassing the cordial heat touching atmosphere and crossing the bridge of asusual formal structure. Let this kind of quantitative effort which directs the path of dance get more surfaces.

-‘ Viprabha’, Puttur


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