Thank you Madame Chair,
Members of Parliament
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Fellow Artistes, both of the MGICC and our Local Artistes
Members of the Media,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
Today, on the occasion of International Dance Day I want to talk to you about dance and education. Some of us just dance for pleasure but we can get more excitement out of dance when we recognise the educational value that dance can provide. For instance I shall take two aspects of the arts of music and dance to demonstrate how we can use mathematics in a unique and interesting way to teach our young people and educate the population. I refer to:
i The use of numbers in rhythm and tempo to make arithmetic, the science of numbers, interesting. Take for instance the number from one to five(1-5).I apply them in a sort of Morse code with a specific tempo as follows; dot, dot-dot, dot-dot-dot, dot-dot-dot-dot, dot-dot-dot-dot-dot ,dot-dot-dot-dot-dot, dot-dot-dot-dot-dot .They follow the same Morse code pattern in Indian classical dance, especially Kathak dance pattern:1,12,123,1234,12345,12345,12345. This can be done by footwork ((tatkar), using a technique of body movement, and by speaking or narrating the same sound syllables in rhythm, which is referred to as parhant. In this way we can string numbers in any combination, with rhythm, to arrive at an exciting foot work or body movement play.
ii Also we can create basic shapes and forms of the body and its movements (e.g., Ws, Ss, Semi circles, angles with degrees; 90,180 or 360 degrees, or variations of these) in space and time. This, in a simplistic form, in a nutshell, is what we call choreography. These can be used to teach thescience of shapes and forms; geometry and trigonometry.
iii The use of the numbers combined with the body movements, with a touch of melody added to it, can create excitement and make math pleasurable and interesting. It can be a fun thing in the teaching and learning process.
By utilising such application of rhythm and movements in dance, to teach math, the student develops self-confidence, self-assuredness, positive group dynamics and identity. Moreover we can then use this method as a style of drama for storytelling, of our own stories.
We must not just want to be an ordinary dancer. We must work, practise, systematically and consistently, with undivided attention and focus; aspire to be that dancer with a difference.
But an artist has ahankar, an ego. This is not necessarily a bad thing. We are all born with it.This is what identifies you, tells you who you are and where you have come from. Ahankar is necessary for the stage. But simultaneously you must be aware,you must understand and practise humility and respect…. Respect all those who have, and who are currently guiding and teaching you the art form, in whichever way.
But do not confuse teaching by an instructor with the process of mentoring. A teacher can be just an adhiapak, an instructor. If it is your desire to reach far in this art form, then get yourself a mentor .A mentor teaches you, guides and provides his or her own experience in the field of the Arts and in this case; dance. And if you secure an Acharya, one who has studied, composed, performed for the most learned audiences, internationally, researched and written on the subject matter, a true Guru, thenyou have acquired a gold mine of knowledge and experience.
But studying or training with such a person has its own price. They will not waste their time to suffer your stupidity, or indulge in your lack of focus or petty arrogance, of which we have much in these parts. Rather, such an Acharya‘s hope and expectation is to show you the top of the mountain. But when climbing there will be mishaps… many of them. When these occur and you slip or fall, get up, dust yourself and keep going. Your life has to be made of sterner stuff.
And believe in the universal consciousness. Visualise your life as you wish it to be. Meditate on it. Miracles do happen. I have experienced one, just one week ago. My TSTT telephone land line had been dead over the last 2 yrs. I consistently complained while paying the monthly rental. A few months ago they informed me that the analogue line and number were discontinued, cancelled; they had no wireless network in my area. All the rental fees were transferred to another mobile line. Isilently prayed for its restoration, because all my international contacts know this number. Low and behold, last week Monday,TSTT called me and just came back, asked no questions, gave no explanations but reinstalled it – 663-9513- and left. If youknow this local telephone provider, then this action was a minor miracle. ]
Nothing in life is worth the while unless we take risks to achieve it.Try, and fail, but every time you fail, and fall down, rise andtry again. Do not just quit because you did not try hard enough…that is if you really want to dance. You must have a passion for it and the guts to pursue your dream. But dream big, with specific goals to achieve. Without goals and consistency you will never attain your ambition or reach the top.
Work intelligently so that you can get much done. Without the solid base you could be just dancing; dancing top in mud. But seek out an instructor and guide, in whatever dance-form you choose, and go with your hunch. Listen to your intuition. Takeyour chances. Live the dance of Creation preservation and dissolution with passion.
I have been instructed. I have been guided, I have been mentored and even protected from the harm of others, who havewished me harm at many levels of consciousness. A Divine presence has always protected, me for my art is done to glorify the best that is his/her creation. I will read a poem from my recently released book of poems The Wanderers (Batohiya) to emphasise my statement. It is entitled “Art from the Heart”.
Art from the Heart
The Art gives nothing but itself,
And commands no one, but itself.
It neither possesses, nor can it be possessed.
Rather it gently allows the true seeker
To be entangled in its universal nest.
And know that the Art does not aspire,
So when you embrace the Art,
And recognise that from your innermost depth emerges desire,
Then understand that this is only your desire,
For the Art in its purity, is sufficient unto itself.
And when you transition into the Art’s dimension,
And vibrate with its manifold rhythmic intension,
You should not proclaim,
That ‘in my heart is God’, but rather acclaim
‘I am in the heart of the Art of Perfection.’
And think not that you can chart,
Or direct the course of your artistry.
For the heart directs your course,
If the Art finds you worthy.
It may even be a long meandering journey.
And for those who have not been touched by the Art,
They laugh and weep from the common man’s heart.
But they shall never experience
The profound joy; or the depth of despair
That emerges from a heart without a blossoming Art.
I end by advising you, to dance as if it is a meditation. You will always be in good health; physically, mentally and spiritually, you will live in pure consciousness and attain anand or bliss;Sat, Chit and Anand.
Parents, take your children to be trained in the classical dance first. Give them a firm base which they can use to do anything after. Dancers, live to make a difference and a positive impression so that long into the future people will recognise the positive contribution you made to your name, your art of dance, your heritage and to the society in which you live. Let yourGhungroos talk. Let it be an ambassador, an impeccable warrior for your art form and your culture. Dance for the sheer joy of life. Let your tatkar heal you. Let your dance be yourmeditation.
There is another poem in The Wanderers (Batohiya); “The Artist of Tomorrow.” Read it with gusto and bravado and think of the ideas expressed therein. Practice the thoughts ‘with a self- centred visualisation’ don’t just dance, ‘…Soar on the wings of the Art.’
You will be the artist of tomorrow, today’s dancer of the future.
I thank the MGICC for organising this event, and the opportunity to address you the audience, and particularly my fellow artistes. I thank you for your attention. Do enjoy the rest of ‘International Dance Day’ and this evening’s offerings.
Satnarine Balkaransingh. BA (Hons), P. Grad (Dance), MSc., PhD
Author, Performing Artist & Economist (Consultant/Adviser: Policy, Strategic & Proj. Planning)
Fmr. Snr Public Servant, GORTT; Fmr Lecturer (Part Time) Univ of West Indies, St Augustine
Founder & Art Director, Kathak Kala Sangam, T&T (Inst. For the Arts)