Bengaluru woman introduces dance project in New Jersey schools | Bengaluru News

BENGALURU: A dancer from Bengaluru is instrumental in heralding a change in the curriculum of public schools in New Jersey. Akhila Chethan, an immigrant artist in the US and founder of Kalagangothri Foundation, chairs the committee making efforts to include dance in the curriculum.
Dance to Learn (DTL) aims to advance dance education in public and private elementary schools across New Jersey. Under this programme, teachers are trained to use dance as an art form to explain concepts to students (who are at various learning levels) and get them to grasp topics with ease.
“The strength of Bharatanatyam is in gestures and expression – how we can creatively use them, making it extremely easy for students to connect. There are students who do not express themselves. Dance is a great form for them to open up,” said Akhila.
She led the efforts to develop the curriculum with Nai Ni Chen Dance Company and other groups of contemporary and traditional companies. She chaired the committee along with three other leading artists from Egypt, Spain and China. While the project has been started in a few schools, more are expected to follow in 2023-24.
“We train them on each topic. Schools have a main teacher, a trainee teacher and a developer to help students. The teachers can use dance to help them get more creative,” she explained.
DTL is a co-sponsored programme of Dance New Jersey, Young Audiences Arts for Learning NJ and Eastern Pennsylvania. It is financially supported by The Geraldine R Dodge Foundation. “The intent of DTL is to promote equitable access to dance experiences for historically excluded and systematically marginalised populations. It is also an employment opportunity for several professionals trained in dance as they get into schools to work with subject teachers,” she said.
Akhila, a Bharatanatyam dancer, is originally from south Bengaluru and moved to the US in 2011. There she founded the foundation.
“I hope to give a new dimension to schools which have a diverse culture and still make Indian culture globally appealing through the programme,” she said.

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