Bharatanatyam dancer and founder of Shree Narayani Natyalaya, Sathosh Kumar Thamang admits that it’s a very difficult task to teach students below 10 years. “When I started the institute, I took students who were five years and above and realized it’s very difficult to teach at that age. As their body is ‘Not’ ready, but the advantage is that it can be tuned accordingly as they are fresh like mud which can take any beautiful shape,” he says.
On the challenges, the Bharatanatyam dancer says that after a student joins the dance class within three months, the parents want the kids to perform on stage. “The parents start putting pressure on the teacher and compare a three-year-old baby performing on the TV show and ask why not my daughter, why it’s taking long time to complete basics. It’s very difficult to teach kids sometimes and some five to six year kids do toilet in class and getting the class cleaned and then start the class again,” the teacher says.
Santhosh Kumar adds that nowadays kids come from a nuclear family and mostly a single child, who is very pampered. “So, I encourage them to watch the senior students’ dance. Also, there is Saraswathi Kataksham. Most of the students don’t practice at home and that’s the main disadvantage. After the dance class, they learn Guitar, western dance and Bollywood dances. I am not against the other art forms, but the parents want the kids to learn all these things,” he says.
The Bharatanatyam dancer says that he advises parents to teach Indian scriptures like Ramayana, Krishna Leelas and tradition to their kids. He says students must have Shraddha and Bhakti and must practice what they learn. “Shraddha Wan Labate Gyanam,” says Santhosh Kumar.
On molding the students, he says that he has drawn up his own principles. “Before I start teaching the young kids, I personally talk to the parents. Tell them the pros and cons of my teaching methodology and then only start.” For example, he doesn’t allow students to come to class in western attire. “No questions of performance for a period of three years. Also, importance is given to acquiring knowledge and Anga Sudhi and proper diet and other exercise or learning Carnatic music or instruments. I apply the techniques taught to me by my gurus,” he says.
Santhosh Kumar for three months, teaches students exercises and tells them stories, plays with them and slowly teaches the Adavus and tries to understand each student’s psychology and then teaches accordingly. “Nowadays, I take students eight years and above as it is easy to teach and make them understand. End of the day, its ‘Purva Janma Sukrutam and Saraswathis Kataksham must be there,” he adds.
Kuchipudi dancer and founder of Srinidhi Arts Academy, Anusha Kalluri Srinivas, says that teaching kids of five to 10 years age group is a beautiful experience as they tend to be so pure and innocent. In the same breath, she adds that teaching children in that age group is absolute fun, yet very challenging as they are always high spirited. “I think one has to make it a fun learning session, while making them understand the profundity and the magnitude of the art form,” she states.