THE ROLE OF INDIAN CLASSICAL DANCE IN EDUCATION
by Suprava Mishra, Rajkot
e-mail: supravamishra@yahoo.com


May 2001

Dance is the form of vibration of our body and mind. It is a form of worship through which a dancer can reach the Almighty. It is a form of Yoga. A dancer can only reach this stage through continuous training i.e. 'Sadhana'. So, in my view, for the child who wants to learn dance, the first thing she has to do is undergo hard training from which she will learn discipline and patience which are the most important factors in a child's life.

The second thing is the total body movement of a dancer so that a child has her complete physical fitness and get control over the body. The third thing, dance is a mode of expression of our inner feelings. So, she can express herself through dance. In that way she will develop self-belief and self-confidence. The fourth thing, Indian Classical Dance is based on mythology & puranas. So when a child learns dance, she is bound to know the story of Mahabharata, Ramayana, Bhagavat Geeta, Shiv Purana, immortal books of Mahakavi Kalidas etc. In this way she can also learn the great Indian Literature. Thus her knowledge will be enhanced. Fifth thing, when a child learns Indian classical dance, she will automatically come to know about the rich cultural heritage of India.

We speak of culture as simplifying an all round development of human faculties. It has been said, "science is curiosity about life, art is wonder at life, philosophy is an attitude towards life and religion is reverence for life". True culture includes all these four aspects and a cultured man ought to show development along all these four lines. It is therefore obvious that education in aesthetics is as essential if not more than mere intellectual or physical education. Man can never be complete or balanced or harmonical unless his emotions are trained, developed and sublimated, and herein comes the need for introducing art in our educational curriculum as a compulsory subject. Classical Dance is the highest form of art.

The true object of education is to develop human personality in all its aspects. Any over emphasis on a particular aspect to the neglect of another may lead to a kind of lop-sided development which in the long run may do more harm than good. There was a time in our educational history when emphasis was laid only upon the intellectual development of the student. In those days there was very little attention paid even to physical development. Later, they began to consider the importance of physical instruction so much so that one's proficiency in sports was given great weight in selecting candidates for certain appointments. But man is not merely his intellect and his physical body. He is much more. He has his emotions which play a more vital part in his development and the development of his nation than is ordinarily recognized.

Unfortunately the development of human emotions has not received that attention which is due to it in our educational institutions. In one sense it may be said that the present dead lock in world affairs is due to a large extent due to the lop-sided development of human personality referred to above. All emphasis was laid on head development while the heart of humanity was allowed to starve. It is this over-development of the head at the expense of the heart that has gone a long way to supply the psychological basis for our modern troubles. If there had been a balanced progress of the head and heart, human nature would have developed certain fundamental moral values, which would have made it impossible for the present world muddle to come about. It is therefore, necessary that the heart development of the pupil should receive great attention at the hands of the educationalists. A great Chinese proverb says, "If you have two loaves, sell one and buy a lily". The implication is obvious. Do not concentrate your attention on only food and drink, but pay equal attention to the development of your aesthetic nature.

The greatness or littleness of the nation in the future is to a very large extent, dependent on how the youth of today are trained. In the first place, they have to become cultured citizens; they must help our nations to express the best in her, along her own lines and consistently with her special genius. The second idea at the back of an educational system properly organized must be to help the citizen to express himself as a unit of the nation to which he belongs. Each nation has a soul of its own which tries to express itself in several modes of thought and activity, and we are all, in one sense, only cells in that bigger organism. The standard culture of an eastern nation differs, in several essential points, from that of a western nation. And so in art there is a great national art peculiar to India. There are some special features about Indian Classical dance, which distinguish it from other dances of the world. And if our youth are to be trained to be channels for the expression of our national consciousness, the training of dance we impart to them must be truly national, truly Indian in spirit. There is nothing to prevent an Indian from admiring or learning foreign dance, but then she must already have learnt Indian dance.