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New Forum for Teachers

28 September 2010

South Asian Dance Faculty to launch a new National Forum for teachers in Birmingham on 21st November 2010.

The ISTD’s South Asian Dance Faculty is pleased to announce a new outreach initiative: the South Asian Dance Teachers’ Forum. The national forum will be launched in Birmingham on 21st November, in collaboration with established West Midlands’ South Asian arts organisation Sampad. It will be a first-ever networking and professional exchange opportunity for teachers of South Asian dance in the UK.

Misrana, the Faculty’s splendidly successful student biennial showcase held at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre in 2009 attracted among the audience a number of South Asian dance teachers and students who are not yet part of the ISTD family. Several of them expressed a keen interest to find out more about the ISTD examinations and to meet and speak with ISTD member-teachers, as well as with Faculty members.

“There are networks or gatherings for performers of South Asian dance, informal or otherwise, organised by producers like Sampad and Akademi, and, new ones, as proposed by regional dance agencies such as Southeast Dance. However, there is none really for teachers of South Asian dance, and there are at least 40 or more teachers of quality according to a recent CAT report,” says Sujata Bannerjee, Chair of the Faculty and National Subject Leader for Kathak for South Asian Dance CAT. “Although many teachers are also performers, as teachers, their concerns are, and should be, somewhat different. And we, as an ISTD Faculty, are in a position to take a natural lead, share skills and create a support network.”

It is envisaged that the forum will provide the Faculty with a way to formally engage with teachers of South Asian dance who are not yet members of the ISTD, providing an outreach platform for their professional development as well as an opportunity to inform, facilitate and integrate more teachers into the ISTD syllabus.

We expect the 21st November launch to be well represented nationally, and particularly from the Midlands. It may be possible to get attendance as well from the US and Canada where the Faculty conducts grade examinations. Not restricted to teachers who have prepared students for the ISTD’s examinations or to Bharatanatyam and Kathak, the two styles currently in the syllabus, it will be an open invitation to teachers of all forms of South Asian dance, including the globally surging Bollywood dance.

The day will feature a range of plenary and breakout sessions with sample grade presentations and explanations of the syllabus and examinations, including its principles, philosophies and progression.

Given the overseas training of several teachers, the APL processes will be of significant interest. While the Skills Sharing Days have, in the past, specifically dealt only with the syllabus and for teachers fielding candidates, the sessions here will be open to all, and will welcome lots of questions. In addition, there will be smaller breakout opportunities to more closely discuss aspects of syllabus, technique, and development of syllabi for more South Asian dance styles, as well as any shared issues or concerns of teachers of South Asian dance. The day will conclude with a dance performance featuring several groups.
As an organised but open, friendly and informative platform, the forum will hopefully become a regular feature of the Faculty’s activities.

Chitra Sundaram

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