Zooming in on classical Bharatha Natyam | Daily News

Zooming in on classical Bharatha Natyam

Bharatha Natyam gained the status as one of the topmost classical dance forms of India, which has a divine origin and sacred historical background. Earlier Bharatha Natyam teachers firmly and strictly adhered to the standards and styles. The art was earlier taught in Gurukulams.

Gurukulams means, where the students stayed with traditional gurus and served them and learned the art with dedication and devotion and absorbed the art form thoroughly.

These traditional hereditary gurus took the classes without a time limit. They not only taught the art form along with the art, but also imparted the full confidence into their students in life, and imparted the full nuances of Bharatha Natyam along with the dance training.

Along with the dance base, they trained the Carnatic music which is essential for Bharatha Natyam students. The Carnatic music is the source and base music for the Bharatha Natyam. During the Gurukulam period, students took dance as a full-time profession; hence they learned the art with keen devotion, dedication and involvement.

Imaginative creativity

Earlier the traditional Gurus taught the art not on the selective standard level to all the students, but according to the ability, personal talents, age and different skills. The students in the Gurukula system learnt the art under the same teacher and the same style for years together. It cherishes the individual imaginative creativity and strict perfection. With time this art form has moved to institutions. After the art has moved to institutions, the methodology of teaching took a new turn and dimension. 

At an institution, the student learns the different aspects and concepts of the art under different gurus and their course is confined to a particular time limit and defined syllabus. Individual imaginative creativity is strictly limited at institutions. Today most of the fine arts have come under degree level; even the students want to learn the performing arts for a degree only.

Most of the students learn Bharatha Natyam as a part-time course today. They attend classes twice a week or once a week. Earlier the dance teachers were good vocalists, and had good knowledge of Carnatic music; they imparted basic Carnatic music for the students. However, today most of the teachers are using tape music or C.D players for the practices and recitals as well.

Modern electronic media

A new methodology in the Bharatha Natyam training has emerged in the dance field, to fulfil the aspirations of the student community to earn a degree or a diploma through the distance education system. Written theory materials and practical illustrations are given in advanced C.D discs, which are sent by post. The examiners expect that the candidates, who are sitting for the examinations, should strictly perform according to the C.Ds. So, by the way, they are restricting the imaginative creativity of the students. The modern technology has helped students to earn a certificate or degree in dance to get a certificate, to seek a job.

Meanwhile, due to the present pandemic situation, the students are continuing their performing arts career through distance educational systems especially, through electronic media, like Skype and Zoom communication media methods. Following performing arts through direct modern electronic media, have their benefits as well as their drawbacks. Yet under such unavoidable circumstances, these above methods provide a great opportunity to the student community, as well as for the teachers of the selective fields to continue their selective studies and career at this critical juncture.