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My Mother, Father and my Natya
- Chandra Anand

March 28, 2020

NCPA Mumbai Dance Season 2020 is a month long festival of dance where the NCPA collaborates with institutes across Mumbai to present workshops, dance performances, lectures and talks to spread knowledge of different aspects of dance and its benefits throughout the city.

One such lecture demonstration was held in collaboration with Shanmukhananda Natya Vidyalaya at SIES High School Auditorium, Matunga on 7th February 2020. The topic 'My Mother, Father and my Natya' was an information session and chat with students of classical dance (natya) and their parents. A session with a "Myself" kind of title, turned out to be a thought provoking one. It brought out the importance of involvement of parents in providing positive atmosphere for young children and training them to lead a healthy lifestyle where learning an art provides a powerful tool for the same.

This session was convened by Anand Satchidanandan, the present artistic director of Shanmukhananda Natya Vidyalaya. This session explored topics like 'Yoga for the body and mind and dance' by Radhika Madhusudhanan, 'The art of healing: A medical perspective' by Dr. Padma Ramakrishnan and 'Dancing musically' by Sujatha Nair Sanjay.

Radhika Madhusudhanan

A nice rangoli made by Bharat, a dance student, adorning the entrance of the auditorium hall indicated topic to be one for the whole family. The event commenced with a prayer by Varshalakshmi and welcome address and introduction of guests by Priyadarshini, both senior students of the Natya School.

In her talk on 'Yoga for the body and mind and dance', Radhika stressed the right manner of breathing helped gain good health and happy thoughts. As a result of being stressed out with responsibilities and worries, people do not breathe in the right way. For this reason the right way to breathe has now to be practiced with awareness. In a play way method, she taught them three techniques of pranayama, which help to feel fresh, to relax and to energize. She emphasized that these breathing exercises helped improve concentration and also built up stamina, thus, beneficial to students of natya. These exercises if practiced with awareness by grandparents and parents will help improve their health also. Thus the importance of yoga to lead a healthy and stress free life was put forth.

Dr. Padma Ramakrishnan

Taking forward the idea of good health and positive thoughts, in her talk on 'The art of healing: A medical perspective', Dr. Padma Ramakrishnan spoke about the importance of physical, mental and spiritual health of the human body from a young age. In a story telling manner, she explained how the health of cells, the basic building blocks of the human body, was important for all round development. Other than need of good food and clean environment for healthy growth, the cells also needed positive ambience. Cells of the body got energized and healthy due to good thoughts and experiences. They got disturbed and diseased due to bad experiences, such as insults and hurting words heard and endured for a long time. But sick cells could be rejuvenated with good experiences. This is where the importance of art comes. These cells have a magnetic field of its own and its vibrations set the rhythm of the body. This rhythm is the same as the rhythm in outer space. The inner energy often communicated with the outer energy. An art provides the inner energy a medium to express itself and sync with the outer space. Visual and aural arts are called fine arts as they tune finer vibrations of the body. The artistic experiences that can be got through fine arts help annihilate bad thoughts and experiences. So a need to be exposed to arts where one receives positive vibes is important. Thus arts can provide good medicine to a stressed and sick body. With practice from young age, one can exorcise all diseases and lead a healthy life.

Endorsing the two speakers, Anand Satchidanandan said in earlier days the atmosphere was quiet and clear, so all activities took place without stress and in a peaceful manner. In today's fast paced life, one needs to look for peace, and bring peace to oneself. Activities in yoga and arts help in many ways to bring peace and acquire healthy lifestyle.

Anand Satchidanandan

Sujata Nair Sanjay, spoke about the importance of music and dance in 'Dancing musically'. She proclaimed that music was present in the body in an innate manner. Vibrations the physical bodies undergo have a rhythm which gets pronounced when the human being experiences joy and expresses it. With knowledge of music, the dance of the artist gets enhanced. Giving examples, she explained how the meaning in the poetry is colored by music wherein an appropriate raga scale conveys the right mood of the poem. In-depth knowledge of both music and dance helps choose appropriate dance movements to chosen music compositions.

She further added the spiritual aspect is to become one with the character. Being or becoming the character, say Krishna or Rama, one experiences the concept of "tat tvam asi". She encouraged students to learn arts saying if you are able to dance you are special to god, and it's by the grace of god that you are learning dance. She added that just by singing to the shruti, you are in touch with the Ultimate Sound or Rhythm of the Universe. Thus, when you dance to a tune, each cell of yours gets tuned to the shruti set for music and this develops concentration on the Ultimate Rhythm that transcends you to experience bliss. This experience gives a boost of positive energy, a good feel and happy thoughts making way to lead a healthy life.

Anand Satchidanandan concluded the session pronouncing, in olden days these arts were groomed in temples, a place that had the ambience of positivity. Today, these arts are groomed in various institutes. The school staff joined in to say that today also such places are built where positive vibrations can be experienced and those are various auditoriums that adorn cities. They encouraged all parents to take their children to see various art programs of music and dance held at NCPA, Shanmukhananda Sabha and various other auditoriums.

Chandra Anand is a student of Sri Rajarajeshwari Bharatanatya Kalamandir and guru Lata Raman. Chandra also has a postgraduate degree in Bharatanatyam from Tilak Maharashtra Vidyapeeth, Pune. Her set of articles 'Education in spiritual values through Bharatanatyam' is featured in

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