Grant Period: Over three years
For developing and implementing a Dance-In-Education programme in Bangalore schools. The programme will introduce students from diverse economic and social backgrounds to contemporary dance and movement arts, train dance teachers and help develop a dance education curriculum.
Based in Bangalore since 2001, Attakkalari Centre for the Movement Arts, Bangalore (ACMA) is committed to creating an institutional space and organisational infrastructure for a modern south Asian dance idiom. The Centre conducts a range of activities, including daily dance classes, workshops, internships, collaborative projects, exchange programmes, choreography laboratories, residencies and dance festivals directed towards interested amateurs, professional dancers and speciﬁc groups within the community. ACMA has established a dance studio with a sprung wooden dance ﬂoor, along with a linoleum dance ﬂoor and basic lighting.
In the majority of schools in India today, dance does not feature as a subject of study. Typically, students interested in traditional dance have sought to identify teachers outside formal educational contexts, and pursue their interest after school hours. This has spawned a great number of informal organisations that cater to the needs of students who wish to learn ‘classical’ Indian dance forms. While folk dance forms, even when state patronage has attempted to systematise learning, continue to languish, ‘contemporary’ or ‘modern’ dance is perhaps the most neglected and marginalised.
While the aesthetics, communicability and ‘Indianness’ of modern dance will continue to be vigorously contested in the foreseeable future, educationists are beginning to recognise the value of introducing elements of the modern dance idiom in conventional schooling contexts. This grant will enable the ACMA to introduce an ‘Integrated Movement Education’ project in select schools. Over the past year, ACMA has offered short workshops in contemporary dance in certain schools. Buoyed by the schools’ enthusiastic reception, ACMA now proposes to introduce a regular, year-long ‘Dance-In-Education Programme’ (DIEP) to select schools in Bangalore. Using a ‘child-centred’ approach, Attakkalari’s proposed dance pedagogy seeks to correct the imbalance resulting from the overwhelming emphasis in India’s mainstream schools on verbal communication.
In the ﬁrst year, ACMA will work with a group of l2 schools in Bangalore. The Centre will frame a set of guidelines and principles that can be adapted and modiﬁed to meet the needs of individual groups or schools. The dance sessions will be designed to equip students with new skills and enable them to create physical expressions of their own. Ideally, ACMA would want to work regularly with students during school hours, over a four-year period. At the same time, however, the organisation is aware that most schools would be reluctant to pledge a long-term commitment to this project, given their lack of familiarity with ACMA and its programme. This has prompted them to cast the dance programme in a modular format that can initially be offered for a year.
While the prime focus of this project will be on offering the DIEP to schools, ACMA also recognises the vital need to continuously produce dance teachers for the programme. The Centre’s Dance Development Programme has been developed to address this need. ACMA’s core team (along with a set of visiting faculty) has developed a training course for future teachers of modern dance. This course will introduce the trainees to basic movement skills, ﬂexibility and safety techniques. It will also serve as a comprehensive introduction to different movement vocabularies and styles, martial arts, and yoga. ACMA is in negotiation with Middlesex University towards securing accreditation for this course.
ACMA recognises the importance of advertising this programme. The Centre will organise regular meetings with concerned teachers and administrators of schools that are not currently participating in the DIEP. Such meetings will enable ACMA’s education co-ordinator to gauge the school’s interest, and will help devise strategies suitable for that particular school and, in turn, enable the school to understand ACMA’s mission and concerns. ACMA has also devised a series of ‘taster sessions’ or one-off workshops as part of its strategy to attract new schools to the DIEP. IFA’s support for ACMA’s initiative addresses one of the arts education programme’s key thrust areas, namely to facilitate the introduction of arts curricula to schools and colleges.