The Telegraph
Wednesday , December 15 , 2010
Since 1st March, 1999
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Little ones make it big on dance floor

Patna, Dec. 14: Classical dance and music have always had a select following in the capital. But they are emerging as popular career choices for the youngsters now.

Shivani, a student of Pandit Birju Maharaj Kathak Academy, made the city proud by qualifying in the auditions of a popular TV dance show — Dance India Dance Li’l Masters this year.

But she is not a rare bird, three other students of this academy — Tanushree, Sanskriti and Sonica — have also won scholarships from Council for Cultural Research and Training, New Delhi.

The scholarship is provided for a period of eight years or till the student turns 20.

Sonica Singh, a 12-year-old student of Delhi Public School, said: “The cultural programmes in the school first got me interested in dance. These programmes also helped me learn how to dance.”

Music and dance were earlier not taken seriously by youngsters.

They were, at most, considered hobbies that would wane with time.

But now, with a lot of avenues opening up, people are considering them as career options. Also a number of schools and training institutes have opened up in the capital that are adding to the talent pool. Ninad — a cultural initiative started by a few enthusiasts — has started two schools for promotion of arts and artistes — Ninad Centre for Arts and Pandit Birju Maharaj Kathak Academy. Though the primary objective of the school was providing training in Indian art forms, popular demand has pushed them to start guitar and piano classes.

“We started Ninad first as an awareness campaign. The schools were established in 2004. We try to nurture the talent of interested candidates through training from national-level artistes,” said Rajiv Sinha, vice-president of the organisation. Ninad is not the only school of its kind in Patna, others such as Bina Sangeet Kala Kendra, Usha musical group, Rajmuni Sangeet Niketan, Sangeet Sudha and Rabindra Bhavan also play a significant role in spreading awareness and training students in various art forms.

“Our academy tried to groom talent on our own expense,” said Robince Kumar, media manager of Bina Sangeet Kala Kendra. Kumar said the academy often trains students who come from economically weaker sections.

Music and dance schools hone the talents but the real encouragement is provided by parents, said Robince.

Most of the schools charge around Rs 500 to Rs 1,200 for admission and Rs 200 to Rs 600 as monthly fees, said a source.

Smita Singh, Sonica’s mother, said: “Academics is still a very important concern for us and I would like my daughter to complete her education. But I also fully support her interest in dance. If she chooses to pursue it as a career, I will help in anyway I can.” Interest in instrumental music is also on the rise — Rajmuni Sangeet Niketan is one of the institutions that provide training in mandolin, drums and piano.

A source said though schools and colleges organise competitions and encourage youth, a systematic training could only be provided by these academies.

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