News: From Ballet To Bharata Natyam

Monday 10 May 2004

South Asian Dance Breaks New Ground With Bold New Changes In The Uk Dance Curriculum. Starting this September, London Contemporary Dance School (LCDS) is introducing a strand in South Asian dance as part of its hugely popular BA (Hons) Contemporary Dance degree programme. This new addition to the three year intensive course is aimed at aspiring dance artists, performers and makers with a South Asian dance background wanting to explore, develop and refine their craft alongside wider contemporary practices in preparation for a career in the world of dance.
This inclusion in the dance curriculum marks the first substantial effort in Europe to include the study of South Asian dance as part of the full range of subjects taught on the mainstream BA undergraduate dance curriculum. Bharata Natyam and other South Asian dance forms will now be included in this important mix, redirecting global expectations and innovations in contemporary dance.

Veronica Lewis, Director, London Contemporary Dance School says, LCDS is delighted to work hand in hand with Akademi and Arts Council England to extend our remit of producing dance artists of the highest possible standard to serve the development of dance for the future. It is a real first to be offering students further training in South Asian dance forms combined with the excellence and rigour of our teaching, the calibre and experience of our staff, and our state of the art facilities in the heart of such a vibrant city. A number of dancers trained in South Asian dance forms have successfully completed our courses in the past but many had to give up their South Asian dance practice for the time they were with us, as our course work involves long hours and is physically and academically demanding. We hope that this new offering, will better enable young artists with a South Asian dance background to benefit from our programmes of study without sacrificing their hard won South Asian dance techniques.”

The course has been devised in conjunction with Akademi, a leading South Asian dance agency in the UK. It’s Director, Mira Kaushik, says: “On our twenty fifth anniversary it is rewarding to see that South Asian dance such as Bharata Natyam and Kathak are at last being so fully embraced and recognised within the mainstream dance curriculum in the UK. I hope that this pilot course will further develop and deepen the understanding of South Asian dance forms, skills and techniques and most importantly allow students a wider range of choices whilst recognising their skills and traditions, and in turn bring South Asian dance to wider audiences in the future.”

Shobana Je_yasingh, the award winning Choreographer and Founder of Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company, is amongst the many dance artists and teachers throughout the country that have consulted on the course structure and contents.She commented _“The Place and LCDS have had a long and historic connection with the world of South Asian dance and with artists such as myself. To be multi-lingual in movement, like in all other spheres of our diverse lives, is becoming increasingly important. This course, I am sure, will lay the foundation for the emergence of truly world class artists of the future both from the South Asian sector and beyond.”

The research and development of this pilot course has been made possible with generous support and funding from the Arts Council England. Jeanette Siddall, Director of Dance, Arts Council England said: “I am delighted to welcome this new course. It is a great example of how arts education is changing to better reflect the rich diversity of cultures that is Britain today. It offers a unique opportunity for South Asian dance artists to develop their professional skills in a contemporary British context and will enrich the experiences and opportunities for all students of LCDS. Dance today is more dynamic and innovative than ever before, and this course is an important step in securing a future that is even more exciting.”


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