Learning Bharatanatyam from Shri Ujwal Jagadeesh, RMCL Bengaluru
In this blog post, I am exploring two new techniques. First, I interviewed my dance teacher, Shri Ujwal Jagadeesh, senior faculty and artiste at Ramana Maharshi Center for Learning (RMCL), Bengaluru. Second, I am using folded circles to organize what I learned through the interview and from my experiences to show how my Bharatanatyam experience is evolving now.
About Ramana Maharishi
Ramana Maharshi is one among the great spiritual masters of India who has guided the world to get back to their own nature which is divine and blissful. Ramana Maharishi showered his love on all living beings. He has been guiding seekers of truth to and rejoice in the power within.
Thanks to Morpheus Nag for this beautiful portrait of Ramana Maharshi.
A Visit to RMCL 12-08-2022 and 12-09-2022
I visited RMCL to learn from Ujwal anna when I visited my uncle and aunt in Bengaluru. When I visited RMCL, I wanted to see the auditorium so I can remember the arangetram that I attended in October. Ujwal anna took me to the big photo of Ramana Maharshi, and showed me that Ramana Maharshi has a walking stick in one hand, and a kamandalu in the other hand. He showed me this because we had been practicing Ganesha Stuti where one of the steps included showing Ramana thatha with his walking stick and kamandalu. We then went up to the meditation hall. We then came back the auditorium. I also wanted to see the steps to the dining hall where my mother sprained her ankle.
The next day, it took us about two hours to get there. I did not have breakfast thinking I would have breakfast at the Udupi nearby. Therefore, we had to get a parcel, pack some food, and dash to RMCL. I learned a new pada beda song. We then taped a body parts song for parents to try with their children. I enjoyed my visit to RMCL.
Interview – Shri Ujwal Jagadeesh
Here are some questions I asked Ujwal anna to explain more about his approach to teaching Bharatanatyam and theater arts.
- When did you start participating in RMCL (Ramana Maharshi Center for Learning) activities? How did you start integrating Ramana Maharshi’s life and teachings in dance?
I was a participant in the Inter-school Competitions and dance competition conducted by Ramana Maharshi Centre for learning. Then I started participating in the dance ballets of the centre. These dance ballets gave me an insight in to the teachings of Ramana which reminds us realize our joyous divine nature within.
This made me realize the purpose of all sadana including the dance is to realize our true Self which powers everything
2. How did you start introducing Theatre Arts for Holistic Development (TAHD)?
We were introduced to Theatre Arts for holistic development by Dr. Ambika Kameshwar and we also completed the P. G. Diploma in TAHD. At the treat after our TAHD course convocation, we were asked to share how we will take TAHD further. I didn’t have a right answer but I said I will incorporate TAHD in my dance classes
3. How do you integrate TAHD in your teaching?
Only after a few years of teaching and various discussions with Dr Sarada Natarajan, President, RMCL it took the shape of children’s rhymes and new dance songs Atma Darshana songs where the focus is on Self-awareness.
4. Did you start incorporating Ramana Maharshi’s life and teachings in dance before integrating TAHD?
Yes, Ramana came first and with it came the understanding of the true purpose of dance which is to realize our true nature. I loved listening to stories always. After the training of TAHD the primary goal of all the lesson plans was to understand that our true nature is happiness. These lesson plans includes song, dance and stories.
5. I know that you were working for Infosys for six years before switching to RMCL full time. Why did you make this change?
I am very passionate about dance. I loved being a part of all dance ballet productions of Ramana Maharshi Centre for learning. After my course in TAHD, I decided to pursue my service at RMCL full time as I enjoy it. I also enjoy teaching dance and telling stories.
6. What advice do you have for neurodivergent learners and their parents?
Ramana says that there is God’s power within everyone of us and tells us to pay attention to it.
Theatre Arts for holistic development teaches us that God has given each one of us a perfect role to play and each role is equally important in the play called the life.
I organized what I learned from the interview using a folded circle. I have been folding circles using the Wholemovement approach (www.wholemovement.com) since 2007. Folding is a unique way of organizing ideas by dividing a whole (the circle) rather than by adding parts together. In the model below, the circle is divided into two parts representing dance and storytelling, the two parts that come together in every lesson by Ujwal anna. The center of the folded tetrahedron is the notion of paying attention to God’s power within us, an idea that Ujwal anna includes in every lesson. Theater Arts for Holistic Development (TAHD) approach is used in both dance and storytelling (two bottom triangles). These elements come together in each lesson (upper triangle).
The poster below shows the development of Ujwal anna’s approach in terms of development of folding from first fold to tetrahedron.
Learning and Sharing
I am sharing what I am learning from Ujwal anna in many ways with our LIFESMART community as well as with the SpecialSaathi community.
I am participating in creating lesson videos for our 100-Day Theater Arts for Holistic Development (TAHD) Lab for parents being organzied by RASA India. An example is shown below.
I explored storytelling at a SpecialSaathi webinar. Storytelling is a direction that I want to continue exploring in the future.
Hope you enjoyed reading my post and my visual summary! I created the Fold, Color, Talk concept in an entrepreneurship camp in 2014. This is the first SpecialSaathi story where I am using a folded circle. I am looking forward to storytelling in different ways in the future!