Kala Bharati presents
Bharata Natya training with ergonomics in mind:
Fundamentally yours, the adavus
February 28, 2015 Delhi

Feb 14, 2015

A presentation on ‘Bharata Natya training with ergonomics in mind, Fundamentally yours, the adavus’ by Dr. Mamata Niyogi Nakra of Kala Bharati and Nicole Lamontagne of Cirque du Soleil from Montreal.

Date: Feb 28, 2015
Venue: IIC Seminar Rooms II and III, Kamaladevi Complex
Time: 4pm
Info: nakrabm@gmail.com / www.kalabharati.ca

A project that began at Cirque du Soleil, Montreal, as research on the methodology for training Indian classical dancers, has grown into a deeper study of the fundamental units of Bharata Natya known as the adavus, with an analytical perspective based on the physics of dance.  The ideas and concepts presented in this lec-dem have been born out of a curiosity that prompted two Montreal-based exponents of dance, Mamata Niyogi Nakra trained in Bharata Natya and Nicole Lamontagne in Classical Ballet, to investigate why the Cirque du Soleil was having so much difficulty in finding dancers, trained in different forms of Indian dance, able to satisfactorily perform a choreography in western contemporary style for the role of  an Indian dancer in their production, Drallion.

The main focus of this investigation led Mamata and Nicole to affirm the fact that for optimum results in dance performance, a methodology has to be developed in which training is imparted with ergonomics in mind. Ergonomics is a science in which things are designed or crafted to achieve the highest level of proficiency with maximum ease in execution or usage. Although ergonomics is commonly thought of in the context of products, it is equally applicable and relevant when talking about services or processes. Broadly speaking then, ergonomics ensures that the dancer is going through the movements with comfort, safety and efficiency. Simply put, good dancing should come naturally and effortlessly.

While respecting the traditional definition of an adavu as described in his writings on dance by Mamata’s Guru, U.S. Krishna Rao, from the point of view of four lakshanas (characteristics): sthanaka (posture), nritya hastas (hand gestures), hasta kshetra (placement of the hands in space specifically defined in relation to the body) and chari (movements combining these three elements), each adavu from a comprehensive list based on Guru US Krishna Rao’s classification, will be demonstrated along with an analysis based on the physics of dance.  Also, the question of which of the basic concepts, such as core stability, alignment, balance, shifting of weight, extension, control and  placement etc. can perceptibly enhance the ability of a dancer to execute the adavu with precision and ease, will be discussed.

Other factors that play an important role in dance training to ensure the comfort, safety, and well being of the dancer, which are part of ergonomics, will also be brought up. These include selection of age appropriate teaching material that learners can relate to; exercises for warm up and cool down; some yoga and breathing exercises specifically geared for dancers; dancewear suitable for movements and helpful for teachers to give corrections; diet and lifestyle. The safety of a learner, an aspect of dance training not always given the importance it deserves, will also be included. The type of floor used for dance classes not only causes less fatigue, it also helps to avoid injuries and strain.

Discussions during this research have been held with Santanu Ghose, a Yoga therapist and Japanese Martial Arts teacher from Kolkata. His contribution has enhanced the understanding of certain aspects of the study and is gratefully acknowledged.

In the spirit of sharing, time will be set aside at the end of the presentation to allow audience participation, both in trying out the movements ergonomically and having a discussion on the points brought up by Mamata & Nicole.

Mamata Niyogi-Nakra started her dance training in 1953, at Arts and Artists, in Patna, India, with Guru Balakrishnan, a leading disciple of Guru U.S. Krishna Rao of Bangalore. On completion of her basic training with Guru Balakrishnan, she went for advanced training on a Government of India scholarship in 1957 in Bharata Natya, to Guru U.S. Krishna Rao and his wife Guru U.K. Chandrabhaga Devi, two of the most renowned exponents of the Pandanallur style of Bharata Natya. The award that Mamata cherishes most is the Maha Maya award given to her by her gurus on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of their institution, in honouring her as one of the sixteen Gurus of Indian Classical Dance for their outstanding contributions to the art of dance.

Mamata performed extensively in India. She also gave performances in the U.K.and Europe, but an accident in 1969, soon after her arrival in Canada, left her with a permanent injury, which brutally and abruptly cut her off from performing Bharata Natya. With the passage of time she was able to regain her interest in dance and with the blessings of her Gurus, and started teaching the art in Montreal in 1978. In recognition of her contribution to Indian classical dance and Bharata Natya, Mamata Niyogi-Nakra has been mentioned under the section Guru Parampara in the authoritative book Bharatanatyam, published by Marg Publications, Bombay (1997).

During her career, Nicole Lamontagne explored many dance styles: classical dance, jazz, modern, tango, folklore. Mr. Daniel Seillier was her principal mentor for her classical training.While in college she trained in theatre. Nicole Lamontagne studied music from the age of 6 years old and pursued until the end of her schooling. She collaborated in many television shows and operas which gave her opportunities to work with multi-disciplined artists. In the midst of an impressive career as a classical and contemporary dancer, Nicole Lamontagne traveled around the world. Her musical sensitivity joined with her acute sense of quality of the movement are part of the elements that explain why so many choreographers and collaborators have chosen to work with Nicole, in dance as well as other various disciplines like artistic skaters and contortionists.

Nicole was with Le Cirque du Soleil since 2006 and a Talent Scout-dance specialist since 2008. Working at building audition projects and conference all over the world to recruit the best elements for the continuous casting needs.