Ashok Thotnalli

Arts Education

Grant Period: Over six months

Ashok Totnalli, one of our most promising Kali Kalisu trained Government High School teacher from Jakanapalli, Sedam, Gulbaraga has meritoriously been working in the field since 2009. It took us nearly two terms of grantmaking to help him break away from the anxiety of being a grantee and actually apply for a grant. Being the most popular teacher in school, he has initiated activities that have made the school connect with the village community over time. One such activity is that he curates one evening every month as ‘Thingala Sanje’, for the village to gather in celebration of their local culture, where he invites artists from all disciplines (folk and urban), writers, poets and school administrative officers to celebrate and witness the cultural richness of the community.

He has identified a local folk performance art form called Dodatta, which has been fast disappearing from the region, central to his project. For Ashok, this is of immediate interest since the last generation of the Dodatta performers are in the school neighbourhood. He takes a firm stand to not play the revivalist, and instead, he wishes to engage the artists as facilitators to conduct a series of lecture demonstrations and workshops to introduce children to the form in great depth. Being an artist himself, he will encourage children to experience the form from different perspectives. Starting from reading the texts, understanding the lyrics, designing the vibrant costumes and set designs, directing the actors to managing the audience – all of this would be part of the children’s learnings. He will then invite students to produce a Dodatta performance and an exhibition for the village community. 

This grant was made possible with support from Goethe Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan, Bangalore.