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What’s the Right Age to Begin Dance Lessons?

kathak, kids

Every child has the right to the best possible childhood, which apart from offering them learning opportunities suggest ways to inculcate healthy habits and explore his/her talents.

Children, during the early years, learn through active engagement, observations and interactions at home. The learning aspect fundamentally happens at the social level and takes place within children’s cultural contexts.

Dr. Shreekant Chorghade

Dr. Shreekant Chorghade, noted Paediatrician and author of several books on Child care and development, explains that genes set the parameters for the basic structures of the developing brain. According to Dr. Chorghade, it is a child’s interactions and relationships with his parents and the ecosystem which he is surrounded by, helps him/her explore his/her talents.

Dance is such an activity which is loved by children and can help form a sound foundation of child’s personality.

“Learning dance at an early age provides the child with ample time to learn; it becomes part of their routine and lives,”says Malti Shyam, Kathak Guru at Kathak Kendra, New Delhi.

Raja-Radha Reddy, Legendary Kuchipudi Couple

Dr. Raja Reddy and his partner Dr. Radha Reddy, are the legendary Kuchipudi dancing couple, gurus and choreographers, whose names are synonymous with Kuchipudi dance and are regarded solely responsible for bringing it on the cultural map of the world.

Dr. Raja started learning Kuchipudi dance in his early 20s. The couple moved to Eluru, West Godavari District, the town of our Guru, Sri Vedantam Prahalada Sarma. “We shifted so that we could learn dance from him,” said Dr. Raja.

According to Dr. Chorghade each child being unique, inherits a particular gene. It is likely to develop the skills at whichever age he is introduced to dance, age is not a major factor. If the child possesses the ability to dance, it may develop interest and is likely to master the art incase he keeps practicing. Also, a child may learn by imitation, while he/she can further enhance abilities by systematic training. However, practice and perseverance can take him/her to new heights.

Mangala Bhatt, Kathak Exponent

Kathak Danseuse Mangala Bhatt whose professional training started after she completed her graduation said, “to start training at the age five, is ideal for a child to build a strong foundation which can also aid in their growth. Soft personality traits like confidence, speaking, timing, discipline etc, can be developed. This has a ripple effect on tangible activities such as academics, sports, music and so on.”

Bhatt echoes Dr. Chorghade’s views that there is no definite age to start learning dance. She advised that “it makes difference when one starts at an early age but then knowledge is knowledge, it can’t be bound by age factor. Anyone who seeks, will find.”

However, experts from medical field and artists warn that the child should not be pressured to an extent where he/she loses interest. As a classical dance needs a lot of consistency and practice, a child who is genuinely interested should be encouraged.

Malti Shyam, Kathak Guru

Malti Shyam, who showed a keen interest in dance and music right from her childhood was eleven when she started taking formal training in dance. She is of the opinion that parents should send their children to dance school somewhere between 7 to 9 years of age.

“Learning dance at an early age helps the child get more time to grasp the techniques, become part of their lives and their daily routine,” said Malti.

Dr. Raja and Dr. Radha share a list of advantages of getting a child introduced to dance at an early age:

  • It helps the child to get acquainted with their roots, customs, heritage and culture.
  • The Body is supple which helps in getting the correct postures with ease.
  • No resistance from the kid which helps them to grasp knowledge as it is meant to be taught to them.
  • A sense of discipline and focus is developed.
  • Limb coordination is easier which results in graceful postures.
  • An intrinsically spiritual connection is developed at a very young age and recognized as unparalleled.

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