“Dance is the most immediate and accessible of the arts because it involves
your own body. When you learn to move your body on a note of music, it's
exciting. You have taken control over your body, and by learning to do that,
you discover that you can take charge of your own life." An expression by
Jacques D' Amboise that is so poignant, that it sets you thinking.
How true the above passage depicts the expression – dance.
When one rejoices a happy moment or mourns some loss, the body shows it all. The body of
any moving objects, whether a human being, an animal, a bird or even man made machines
looks beautiful in movement because it has a sense of rhythm. The way we breathe, walk,
everything we do unconsciously is set to rhythm.
Our culture is rich and unique and what other than dance to understand it. There is a saying
That goes, to understand Indian Culture, study dance.
It holds testimony to our culture because when you study Indian dance, you have to study
everything from music to drama to sculpture to traditions to spirituality, nowhere will you
get such a subject which covers such a vast geography of knowledge. To top it all, you get a
healthy body and alert mind because dance is yoga, a complete health and mind retreat.
Science is curiosity about life, Art is wonder at life, Philosophy is an attitude towards life
and Religion is reverence for life. These four aspects reflect true culture and one has to
acquire little of each one of them to enrich their lives apart from just slogging at work for food
and other material requirements. A Chinese proverb says: "If you have two loaves of bread,
sell one and buy a lily," implying that attention should not be paid only on acquisition of food,
drink and wealth, but also on the development of your aesthetic nature.

Therefore it is only obvious that education in aesthetics is as essential if not more as mere
intellectual or physical education. How can we forget something so important from our
education system? The real object of education is to develop human personality in all its
aspects. And man has his intellect, physical as well as emotional requirements. Indian classical dance has
been unanimously considered as one of the most complete and comprehensive forms of dance
in the world. Indian dance is an in-depth experience - physically, mentally and emotionally.
Classical dance has been understood to stimulate several technical and non-technical skills that
include the abilities to observe acutely, think spatially, to identify the essential components of
a complex whole and to synthesize and communicate the results of one's thinking - visually,
verbally and mathematically.
But the question is how the classical dance with it traditional values, vigorous and austere
technique can take place in today’s times with so much modernization and westernization in
our so called fast-paced lives? How is Indian classical dance helpful in today’s education
and its curriculum? Tradition is always changing and flowing, so one has to take the best
from it and implement in our modern world, the right mix of the old with the new.
Dance education in schools and colleges is important because it develops kinesthetic
intelligence. When students receive dance education, they accumulate information and
learn ways of thinking that complement other subjects. Some students with exposure to
dance in their schools, go on to obtain pre-professional training needed to become successful
dancers or to have dance related careers which is very happening in today’s times with lot of
opportunities pouring in the form of many avenues - choreography, performing, teaching etc.,
Dance education can be offered in a variety of methods. Students can get a brief taste of the
dance forms by way of lecture-demonstrations or small, simple workshops.
In the curricular context, classical dance may be a subject on its own or a component within
other subjects like Music, History, Literature or Language. It would be interesting to see
how we could interweave dance into Science and Mathematics too. Creating and performing
dances is one critical component but a majority of students on to dance as a career. Therefore,
a broad approach to dance instruction in schools allows students to absorb information
according to their capabilities and levels of interest. This helps in generating a complete
awareness about the dance forms and culture at the school level itself and when they
represent our country at Universities abroad, an informed and intelligent representative
is the ambassador of our country.
To end my article which I hope will inspire some atleast to take up dance or study dance,
I would like to quote a phrase from the Natya Shastra, a treatise on Indian dance, music
and drama that dates back to nearly two thousand years. The author Bharatha says:
Na Tath Gnaanam, Na Tath Shilpam, Na Saa Vidyaa, Na Saa Kalaa,
Na Sow Yogo, Na Tath Karma, Natyesmin Yannadrushyathe
There is no wisdom or knowledge, no art, no craft, no device or action that is not
found in Natya.

V Soumyasri (Bharata Natyam /Kuchipudi danseuse)
Devmudra – a movement school,
Email: devmudra2007@gmail.com

Author's Bio: 

Exponent of Bharata Natyam and Kuchipudi,(Classical dances of South India), a postgraduate in dance from Nalanda Nritya Kala Mahavidyalaya, University of Mumbai under the able guidance of Padmashri Dr. Kanak Rele. Passed UGC-NET (Lectureship) examination successfully. Trained in dance from early age as she belongs to the family of traditional Kuchipudi gurus and exponents from Hyderabad
Training students for the past twenty years, she has travelled widely and worked with many prestigious institutions.
Started Devmudra – a movement school in September 2007 in Aurangabad to create awareness and spread the art.
A visiting faculty of Drama Dept., Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathawada University, Aurangabad.