Asian Music and Dance

Sujata Banerjee and Anusha Subramanyam

Sujata Banerjee and Anusha Subramanyam have been appointed to lead the kathak and bharatanatyam strands of the national programme of Centres for Advanced Training, which select talented young people from the ages of 11 to 16 to expose them to high quality personalised dance training. DanceXchange in Birmingham partnered with sampad is the only national centre which caters for south Asian dance.

 Pulse met up with the two teachers to learn more about CAT and to delve into the tutors’ own individual teaching styles.

Q. What is the philosophy of the CATs?

It is the acronym of Centre of Advanced Training. So the programme will offer advanced and intensive training for ‘gifted and talented’ dance students between the ages of 11-16. The philosophy is to nurture talents and give students a well thought-out holistic dance training programme so that their potential is realised.  

Q. Could you explain the structure of the training?

The students will continue their regular classes with existing teachers and Momentum (the project name) will offer an individualised training programme (which could include pilates, yoga, music, philosophy, classes) by arranging for appropriate teachers and instructors to deliver these regularly. In addition, the students will attend four days’ intensive residential classes during half-terms, Easter and summer holidays at DanceXchange in Birmingham. 

Q. What impact do you feel the CAT will have on the south Asian dance sector in the UK?

SB: This is a huge breakthrough. We will be able to produce more skilled and fitter dance students with in-depth understanding of the form. The programme will work closely with teachers and this will further strengthen our network. 

AS: The resources being set aside for training are enormous in comparison to what the south Asian dance sector is used to. Being part of this new and progressive way of learning, incorporating the latest scientific research, is tremendously exciting. It means we can ‘fast track’ teaching our young and gifted. In addition they will also have the experience of performing alongside a talented peer group. Just to be in the midst of their peer group and buzz of dance will make them feel a part of the ‘mainstream’.

Q. What strengths do you feel that you bring as a teacher?

SB: I am a motivator and have good understanding of training technically, physically and emotionally strong dancers.  I can work happily with a diverse group, hold them and give them a sense of ‘fun’, which will be important for this project.

AS: I continue to be inspired to create new experiences for myself, and for my students. I have trained in allied disciplines of yoga, pilates and recently have embarked on somatic studies. When I go into the teaching situation I always look for new forms of stimulus, be it a poem, an object, an image or new piece of music. 

Q. What is the most enjoyable aspect of being a teacher?

SB: To see the students growing with confidence in dance and in themselves. 

AS: They inspire me as they grow and develop. Also the challenge of keeping them motivated provides me with a buzz.

Q. What frustrates you about teaching?

SB: When the students don’t understand the concept of riaz, particularly personal practice.

AS: Limitations of time, space and resources frustrate and challenge me. Not being able to provide regular space of inspiration, e.g. where one regularly met and saw and engaged in informal discussions.

Q. A motto you would like to share with your students?

SB: We should not be scared of hard work and sweat – even in 0 degree temperature we should sweat because it is good for dance and for the skin as well!

AS: Continue to discover who you are, through a continued experiential understanding of the body, mind and spirit. And to always have some chocolate!



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