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Kurang! Burang!  |  Launched on 6 December 2020  |  JeeBoo Day  |  Nursery Rhyme  |  All Ages

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Authored by Abhi Krish  |  Dance by Bharkar’s Arts Academy  |  Art for Downloadable Rhyme Sheet by Nirzara Verulkar  |  Edited by Thaxsha Mark

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Choreographed by: Smt. Santha Bhaskar  |   Dancer: Biju Gowripriya

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This song was created as part of NoolaPalooza’s Community Partnerships segment. Artists and arts groups from Singapore collaborate with author Abhi Krish to present her songs through various forms of art. Children may watch these videos to learn how to tell stories using dance, drama, music, doodles, and puppetry.

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“குராங்! புராங்!” “குராங்! புராங்!” விநோதச் சத்தமிடுகிறது ஒரு பயங்கொள்ளி புலி. அதன் கதையை நடனம் மூலம் சொல்ல வருகிறார்கள் பாஸ்கர் கலைக்கழகத்தினர்.

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What does the roar of a meek little tiger sound like? KURANG BURANG! Join Bhaskar’s Arts Academy (@bhaskarsarts) as they show you how to use gestures, movement and expression to reenact this noisy rhyme.

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[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_empty_space height=”50px”][vc_single_image image=”22843″ img_size=”full” onclick=”custom_link” img_link_target=”_blank” qode_css_animation=”” link=””][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row row_type=”row” type=”full_width” text_align=”left” video=”” css_animation=””][vc_column][vc_empty_space height=”60px”][vc_column_text]We speak with Bhaskar’s Arts’ artistic director, Mrs Santha Bhaskar, to learn more about their initiatives. Read on![/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”20px”][vc_column_text]How has Bhaskar’s Arts Academy been promoting Tamil through your programming?

From Day 1 Bhaskar’s Arts has emphasised Tamil language in all our programmes.


I learnt the Tamil vazhthu “Neerarum Kadal Udutha” set as a sabdam for Bharatanatyam from my Guru Kutralam Ganesan Pillai and performed it. I also taught it to my students. Some of the most popular varnams and padams in a Bharatanatyam repertoire were in Tamil too.


My first choreography Butterfly Lovers is based on a Chinese folk-lore but we had songs written in Tamil and composed by late the Pandit Ramalinga Vathiyar.


My next production was Kutrala Kuravanji, which based on a Tamil classic literature text. This was performed by Indian and Chinese dance students of BAA. This work has since been re-worked and staged by my student Ambujah Thiru in 2008. It is now being reimagined by her again and will take the stage on 11 May.


Another Tamil text that we widely used was Andal Thiruppavai (Paasurams) where all 30 stanzas were choreographed and performed multiple times at temple celebrations. We also went on to stage Andal Kalyanam, a dance drama that showcased selected parts of the text. Dance students also learnt some of the Paasurams and performed them for their Arangetrams.


In the 1960’s we were commissioned by Radio Singapore to stage the dance drama Kannagi. More recently, we have started featuring local Tamil poetries in our works e.g. Rasa & Dhwani and Singai Sathir.


We’re currently the only group practicing, performing and promoting “Therukkoothu”, a traditional Tamil street play. We perform this at various venues such as schools, community centres and in theatres either as part of our annual season or as community engagement programmes organised by NAC.


Pancha Tantra stories have also been choreographed, particularly for our younger audience, with songs and dialogue in Tamil. For example, Mahakavi Bharathiyar poetries were used for the story I Shall Be Me.



How have you found Tamil audienceship through the years? What are some challenges in engaging Tamil audiences?

Through the years, Tamil audienceship is positive and encouraging but can be better. In the early period, traditional Tamil theatrical performances were popular because there were no social media or other distractions other than movies.


Audience interest for traditional arts – in any language – changes according to time. There was a period when interest inclined towards more movie-based forms. And now with the increasing popularity of social media and a technologically-savvy audience, the interest for traditional arts has changed again.


I find that movies help promote Tamil language through songs and the dialogue. The hit songs, even those with lyrics based on traditional compositions, stick relatively easily. Unfortunately there aren’t many of these nowadays.



What are the differences in engaging adult verses child audiences?

More care needs to be given to the theme and language when engaging child audiences. In fact, we also have to give consideration to costume and type of movement, but these usually doesn’t apply to the traditional arts.


Given children’s shorter attention span, parents should prepare the child on what to expect e.g. they could brief them in advance about the programme, an orientation on theatre rules, how to behave while watching a show. These will help the child understand and appreciate the performance better.


Having said that, I would say sometimes even adults need disciplining while watching a show. I have seen them using mobile phones while a performance is going on. Although, the show is not to your taste, as a human being you need to have patience and tolerance towards your circumstances. You are already there; just sit and relax and watch. Even a very bad performance will have something that you can learn from.


I believe performances for very young children needs to be tailored differently. It has to be simple, not very lengthy, with fun elements and engaging. Bhaskar’s Arts and Nrityalaya organise Bala Nrityam, Ilayar Nadanam, Sangitha Ankuram and Manjari which all engage different age groups and levels of proficiency. Students therefore get exposure and engage in traditional dance and music.


Bhaskar’s Arts has also collaborated with ACT 3 to introduce Ramayana to preschool children through a production titled “Rama Sita” which has been successfully performed for few years.



How can the classical arts help promote interest in language and mother tongue for children?

The Arts communicates and connects people just like any language. With “Vachika Abhinaya” or expression through words, Bharatanatyam students are introduced to language.


My own experience is a good example. I did not speak, write or understand Tamil, but Bharatanatyam taught me the language and I consider Sri Kalaimamani Kutralam Ganesan Pillai as my guru for dance and Tamil.


When you introduce concepts or languages to children in their early years, they are able to pick up anything, just like a blotting paper. I think what’s needed is this early exposure, and children will enjoy and appreciate the language, along with the good values these art forms teach.



What is your most favourite Tamil work to date? (Yours or anyone else’s)

I am a devotee or big fan of both old and new Tamil poems.


But if I have to choose, I would say Kutrala Kuravanji is definitely one of my all-time favourite, which explains why I chose to choreograph it as my first Tamil production back in 1959. Another is People Get Connected (2006) in which I used Tamil poems that described different forms of “thoothu” or sending messages e.g. through the parrot, clouds, and so on.


One particular song that gets me all emotional every time I hear is “Kanden Kanden Seethaye” from Arunachala Kavirayar’s Rama Natakam. I have always enjoyed choreographing for it.



What was the impact of covid on Bhaskar’s Arts? What were the challenges with having to create for online platforms and connect with virtual audiences?


BAA lost almost all of our commissioned projects and was not able to stage any of our core productions or conduct our outreach activities such as AEPs at schools.


Online platform was new to us, still is. We are discovering as we go along. Creating or choreographing for screen is a whole different ball game. Need to think like a movie director, and consider angles, storyboards and creating works that remain appealing long enough before audience “switches us off”. As artistes we thrive on audience reaction, good or bad. With online presentations, no way to gauge; hollow feeling performing to a camera. But we are getting used to it and have learnt a lot about working in this new environment.


How does BAA enable parents who want to return to dance?

 We are flexible in allowing mothers to bring their kids to watch their mothers practising dance. I have held many a baby or toddler on my lap as I continue teaching their mothers.

Early exposure to dance or any art will trigger interest in the child’s mind. So, we encourage mothers to bring their kids. Some just watch, some try to copy their mothers.


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