Fine arts is not just for the seasonal kutcheri-hoppers and die-hard dance buffs; it’s for people from all walks of life. And if all it takes is demystifying the nuances, then Aanmajothi, an organisation that strives to catch them young has struck a passionate chord. The man behind the scenes, director K S Natarajan who conceptualised the idea of rooting for the cause in schools and colleges, has successfully created a platform for renowned artists to spread awareness on art appreciation among youth. He shares his inspiring story, and dwells on how he plans to spell out a blueprint to preserve the fabric of Indian cultural heritage with his small, yet path-breaking idea.
The inspiration dawned in 2007. The growing need to encourage a younger audience to learn about their cultural heritage witnessed senior artists coming together to support the unique initiative. The organisation kicked-off the Music to Schools initiative to sensitise youngsters to appreciate classical music through interactive demonstrations, says Natarajan, who asked not to be photographed. “We thought it would be great to take classical music to students who have little exposure to it,” he explains.
While several schools enrolled for workshops to groom music connoisseurs, Aanmajothi recently had disciples of critically acclaimed singer Nithyashree Mahadevan initiate mentoring sessions for music teachers of a few Chennai Corporation -run schools. From the basic grammar of Carnatic music, to compositions centred on Tamil poet Bharathiyar’s poems, as well as the Thirukural verses, the non-elitist approach has worked well to cater to underprivileged students, explains Natarajan.
At present, the novel programme is run in the Chennai Corporation-run schools in Pulla Avenue and VP Koil Street, Mylapore for a collective batch of 40 students.
Spreading their wings to highlight the freedom of expression through dance, Aanmajothi is involved in creating awareness on the classical dance. The Bharathanatyam dance classes hosted under the mentorship of danseuse Revathi Ramachandran is a cherished routine (twice a week) for the budding dancers of Chennai School, Saidapet.
“They have developed Thala Gnanam (knowledge of rhythms) too,” quips Revathi, who feels that use of lively games based on the theory of dance serve well to unravel creativity.
Natyarangam, the dance wing of the Narada Gana Sabha, will be partnering with Aanmajothi in February to propel the initiative, adds Natarajan. It will focus on aiding middle-school children who are part of the on-going programme.
The classes will help them interpret Bharathnatyam, explains Natyarangam coordinator Subramanian. “We plan to make it a monthly feature and reach out to more schools in the coming months,” he says.
In a bid to make fine arts a part of the classroom setting, Aanmajothi is keen on setting up music and dance libraries in the Corporation-run schools to facilitate an equal footing. Natarajan has a vision of designing picnics to concerts and culturally significant heritage destinations, to take the learning beyond classrooms.