In this swipe-right, swipe-left obsessed world, for the children of today and tomorrow, the performing arts have taken a back seat.
In this swipe-right, swipe-left obsessed world, for the children of today and tomorrow, the performing arts have taken a back seat. They are either bombarded with elements from academia or busy learning and exploring the world of virtual wonders. In an initiative to change this present world crisis, a Delhi-based NGO Routes2Roots in association with the Ministry of Culture launched India’s largest interactive digital learning platform “Virsa” to promote and preserve India’s rich cultural heritage and legacy of performing arts.
Talking about the same, Tina Vachani, co-founder of the NGO averred, “Our children have forgotten the beautiful world where one can use their voices and/or the movements of their bodies, often in relation to other objects, to convey artistic expression. They are either glued to their gadgets when at home or their books when at schools. We as adults have forgotten to imbibe in them the knowledge that Bharata Muni once instilled in our ancient Indian culture — we have lost touch with Natya Shastra, theoretical treatises of Indian performing arts, theatre, dance, acting and music. I think, it is high time that we took steps towards preserving our culture and introduced its vastness to our children.” She continued, “With this one-of-a-kind step, we aim to make art lessons more funky and fun, they will no longer be monotonous interactions between the teachers and students in a classroom. Through this exclusive online platform we aim to give free digital learning on Indian culture and music to children across India vis a vis legends and gurus from the field. We will operate through live videos recorded by renowned teachers at our studio in Delhi. That way, kids will have a chance to attend live sessions in various parts of the country. We will help them identify their talent by organising workshops.”
Kathak Mestro Pandit Birju Maharaj, violinist L. Subramaniam, singer Kavita Krishnamurthy, Kathak danseuse Shovana Narayan, singer Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan, actor Juhi Chawla, music composer and guitarist Ehsaan Noorani, sitarist Pandit Devabrata Chaudhury and ambassador and eminent poet Surinder Lal Malik will be on the Board of Advisors and will impart their knowledge through regular workshops and lectures. Talking about them, she informed, “The legends from the fields were more than happy and open to the idea, contrary to our apprehensions. They were thrilled to be a part of the initiative and continue the guru-shishya parampara through a medium which resonates with today’s generation.” A total of 21 schools from Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Delhi, Rajasthan, Bihar, West Bengal, Meghalaya, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat have got their classrooms equipped with monitors, cameras and WIFI connectivity.
“There will be a huge responsibility to explain everything nicely to the kids. We hope to connect with children in remote areas,” Kathak maestro Birju Maharaj said during the launch. Juhi Chawla, on the other hand said, “Trial classes will start from August 8 and I’ll see what I can impart to all these kids before deciding on my curriculum.” The digital programme offers 10 different genres of Indian classical music and dance like Hindustani Classical Vocal, Tabla, Harmonium, Carnatic Classical Vocal and Carnatic Violin, Guitar, Key Board, Kathak, Bharatanatyam and Theatre.