Monday, July 30, 2012

AAA 2012: The magic that was...

Come June every year and the entire NalandaWay team seems to go through a sea change…deadlines loom larger than before, people who usually wrap up by 6 pm end up staying past 8, lunch (usually a happy one-hour affair) is more on the run and between tasks. You get the picture. For those of you who know at least one member of this cracked-in-the-head-but-heart-generally-in-the-right-place team, you can imagine how different this is from ‘normalcy’. Well, we have a 3-word answer for you – Art Arattai Aarpattam J

This year’s hardly been any different. What added to the excitement was the very fact that we were experimenting with a new format of the festival itself this year. While all our previous editions have been held at central venues, this year, we decided to go to the proverbial mountains ourselves – we believed that in order to reach out to more children, we needed to go to the children and create conversations with them. And that’s exactly how we did it this year. By partnering with 12 schools across the city and organizing activities for the children within their own school premises.

Showing them some moves - A lecture demonstration on contemporary dance at a school in Triplicane
Each of the 12 schools had a lecture-demonstration by an eminent artiste, as well as the screening of a blockbuster Hollywood children’s film. Besides the activities across the 12 schools, AAA2012 also included a series of arts-based workshops for teachers, parents and students, all aimed at exploring how arts can be introduced within the classroom itself, in such a way that it makes learning more fun and engages the children more, during the very process. No AAA can be complete without school competitions, that magnificent showcase of talent which provides opportunities for children from diverse background to match their skills and abilities with each other. Add to this, a play that attempts to explore how a child perceives the very complicated concept of death – and there you have it. The potpourri that is Art Arattai Aarpattam is complete. 

To say that this year’s edition of AAA has been memorable is saying the least. Every edition of AAA has been memorable for us simply because there is so much that we learn from the children.  The one aspect that strikes us each and every time is the sheer scope that exists, the scope for learning for the children. And what makes it more amazing is the uninhibited and spontaneous response from the children. Nothing makes us happier than the excitement on a child’s face as she watches Simba the lion cub or the rapt attention with which a teenage boy listens to a talk on temple heritage. It makes us wonder again and again – why is it that we are yet to create a system that effectively taps into the immense potential that exists amongst the marginalized children in society?
The amount of talent that we have seen amongst the children in the last 2 weeks has been immense and indeed, impacted us profoundly. And yes, it makes us that much more determined to renew and re-double our efforts to help these children gain a continued and more sustained exposure to the arts, which will, no doubt, help them acquire various other skills and behaviors. Art is the only way to run away without leaving home, said Twyla Tharp. This is something that makes so much sense to us at so many levels J What we’ve achieved this year would have simply not been possible without the support from our various sponsors, partners and the various artistes who took the time to be with us. The end of the festival has been bittersweet for us. What keeps us going is knowing that the next edition of Art Arattai Aarpattam will be right back!

Photographs Courtesy: Shrinath Sundaram

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