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Performing artistes take the digital plunge with online classes

Until March, Vishwa Bharath, a folk artiste was busy with classes in schools and colleges.

Performing artistes take the digital plunge with online classes
Vishwa Bharath; Members of the online karagam class; Nellai Manikandan


But after the lockdown, he didn’t have any choice rather than sitting at home. After a certain point, the performing artiste in him couldn’t sit idle. He looked around and realised that everyone is into online classes. Without wasting more time, he started online classes to teach parai, devarattam, karagam and oyilattam. “I have been a performer all my life - soon after my studies, I started taking classes in schools and colleges. The first two months after the lockdown, I wasn’t doing anything. A few people started asking about conducting online classes. I’ve never experimented with technology because all my classes were hands-on. After a week, I learned to host Zoom classes with limited students. Now, I am planning to start another batch in September,” shares Vishwa Bharath.

 When quizzed about the practical difficulties of taking folk form classes online, he replies, “The first week was slightly difficult, but later, they picked it up. Now, the students are coming to my place once a week to learn. I do both theory and practical sessions. In the first few classes, I asked the students to make parai with cardboard for them to practice.

 A few theatre actors are learning from me - they got original parais because it will be a good tool for them in theatre.” Vishwa notices that the lockdown has helped people from various walks of life learn some new things. “I have never got people working in the IT field to learn something like this. But now, a lot of IT professionals are finding time to learn different folk art forms.”

 Popular devarattam performer Nellai Manikandan has been teaching folk dance in private schools and colleges and working as a choreographer for Chennai Sangamam. But over the past few months, he hasn’t stepped out of the house. “March to August months are a busy time for folk artistes. Because of the pandemic, every live performance is on hold. Dancers in villages are finding it hard to survive. Only a few folk artistes are getting help, many are still in need of money. People in the performing art community are only helping each other. I am also planning to do online classes – I am just learning how to use certain apps,” says Manikandan.

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