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Breathing life into tribal dance forms

T. Saravanan

Regional Centre for Art and Culture plans to teach tribal children various art forms and folk arts

MADURAI: Tribal dance is a fascination to watch for its style, colourful costumes and rhythm has the power to captivate any audience. Tribal art forms are facing a threat with many tribes opting to come down to the plains in pursuit of greener pastures. Also not many realise the importance of preserving the traditions and culture of their art forms practised through ages by word of mouth.

But definitely not the Regional Centre for Art and Culture, as it has sent a proposal to the Commissioner, Directorate of Art and Culture, to offer free training for tribal children studying in schools and colleges on various tribal art forms apart from folk arts such as `karagattam,' `oyilattam,' `mayilattam,' `poi kal kuthirai,' `kol kal attam,' `thappattam.'

"In Tamil Nadu, only a handful of tribes including the Todas, Kollimalai tribes (kattu nayakars, paliyars), Kodaikanal tribes (mudugas and paliyars) have their own art form. A majority of them lack awareness of preserving their culture. For instance, `kattu nayakars' who have already come down to the plains seeking job opportunities. Many of these tribal children studying in various schools and colleges are totally cut off from their traditional practices and ignorant of their art forms. Hence, it has become imperative for the centre to organise a training programme for tribal children on dance forms of various tribes apart from folk arts," explains N. Sulaiman, Assistant Director, Regional Centre for Art and Culture, on the purpose behind sending the proposal.

After getting the sanction, the centre would seek the support of the office of the Chief Educational Officer in spotting tribal children studying in schools.

For the first time, tribal children would be taught about nuances of other North Indian tribal dance forms.

"Compared to North Indian tribal dance form, our tribal dance is not that attractive, either in technique or costume. Moreover, we thought these children should know other tribal art forms also.

Hence, we proposed to organise this programme. But the only problem we face is providing costumes for these children with the available fund.

We are looking for sponsors for providing costumes," Mr. Sulaiman says.

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