Doing the Shabop!

Posted: October 10, 2012 in Shiamak in Media, Shiamak Interviews
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Shiamak Davar chats with Dhriti Menon about his endeavour of spreading dance education and the importance of inculcating it in the mainstream education system

What is the idea behind Dance Education and how important can it be in shaping a child’s school experience?
My aim through the Shiamak Dance Education (SDE) is to share the benefits of dance with students in their formative years. Whilst at school, children are more receptive to the process of learning, and using dance as a medium of physical activity and creative medium, this program aims at channelling their energy in a resourceful manner. My aim has been to provide quality dance education, inculcate correct technique and provide wholesome training. This is where the art of dance and the performing arts help children develop skills, knowledge and understanding that goes beyond the classroom.

Tell us why inculcating it as a subject can help a students performance in school, self esteem etc?
The objective behind starting SDE is to make it a part of the regular curriculum with a specially designed syllabus that encompasses all aspects of the performing arts. The expert faculty personally trained by me have a bank of dance and therapy based activities that help students improve fitness levels, confidence, focus and concentration, team spirit and positive thinking, discipline, posture, body language, appetite and all round development. It gives a place for students to de-stress and learn at the same time. Today, when the SDE program is running successfully across the country, the school principals have in fact been extremely pleased with the extent to which these class are helping students improve overall performance at school.

As a part of the typical school curriculum, does it include exams and tests? If so, how is it graded?
Given that it is a structured program, there is a progress report that the instructors maintain to keep a track on each individual students’ growth in terms of body co-ordination, music and rhythm sense, focus and performance. They assess the students regularly through the course of the classes and this is also a part of the school’s annual report of each student. This is more so for the instructors to help the students improve and not to make them feel incapable. Therefore the assessment is extremely positive to encourage them in honing their talent.

Is Dance Education an optional subject and if so from which standard should it ideally commence?
The dance education program is customised to every school’s requirements as – during school hours as part of regular curriculum, after school hours as an extracurricular activity, as part of regular curriculum culminating into a grand annual performance or specially choreographed and designed annual day shows. We start as early as junior KG and nursery all the up to college. The instructors are equipped with specific syllabus including isolations, exercises, dance technique, activity bank, dance styles and choreography for each grade.

What does it actually include (activities, forms of dance etc)?

Each session is broken down into exercise, dance based activities, passes/ dance movements across the floor and choreography. Every session targets at improving the skill set of the students and helping them find themselves through dance. For pre-primary, the focus is on creative dance movement and learning through dance rhymes and innovative patterns. For primary and secondary, they learn my jazz technique and styles include Jazz Funk, Shiamak Style (contemporary), Shabop (Hip Hop & Street Funk), Bollywood Jazz, Theatre Jazz, Jive and Rock’n’Roll, Afro Jazz and Salsa.

How many IB schools have included or wish to include this in their curriculum?
We’ve had workshops at various IB schools across the country. The program is open to all academic structures and moulds itself to the school’s individual time table. The idea is to make quality dance education reach out to as many students as possible.

Tell us a little about Dance as a career and the various opportunities and options available for young people to enter the field?
Well when I started off twenty years back, the avenues were non existent and I had faced a lot of rejection. My mission through the dance school was to help people recognise their talent and give them a place to learn correct technique and gain wholesome knowledge. Today, all my instructors are making a living through dance and are doing as well as their counter parts in corporates. There are so many opportunities from teaching at schools via the SDE program, at the progressive dance classes in the evenings, performing in shows, movies and my productions. Most also hold managerial jobs in my dance school. Most important for young enthusiasts is to believe in their talent, learn from the best and pass on the right message.

Give us an insight on the importance of non-traditional subjects and courses like this. How relevant are they, practically?
There is something each of us is passionate about, our true calling. Non traditional subjects help you tap that. It really helps align the mind, body and soul; disconnected from worries and stress. Another aspect is creativity, its expanse is something that these subjects help you recognise and play an important aspect in everything else you do. For me, I have seen people heal through dance, and it is something very special.

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