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Student Experience in World Dance Program

Student Experience in World Dance Program

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Published by Rohini Dandavate
The impact of learning Odissi dance under the World Dance Program in a University setting.
The impact of learning Odissi dance under the World Dance Program in a University setting.

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Categories:Topics, Art & Design
Published by: Rohini Dandavate on Sep 25, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/25/2011

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Student Experience inWorld Dance Program
 
Student Experience in World Dance Program
Rohini Dandavate, Ph.DSeptember 15, 2001Universities in the United States of America (U.S.) are increasingly seeking tohelp students develop cultural sensitivities by offering courses that allow studentsto understand diverse cultures through the arts. It is observed that the ability tograsp meaning and interpret diverse cultural beliefs and practices can be initiatedthrough the experience of dance movement and the other streams of the arts.World dance Programs in departments of dance in universities like the OhioState University (OSU), Denison University, University of California Los Angeles(UCLA), the Wesleyan University in Connecticut to name a few, provide coursesthat combine theory and practice of diverse cultural artistic expressions, offeringopportunities for performance, movement studies, dance theory and artspedagogy. Practicing artists and scholars from nonwestern countries are invitedto teach. The world arts and cultures concentration emphasize cultural studiesthrough visual and performance arts and the dynamics of creativity in globalperspective. This paper presents and discusses the observations of a studyconducted to understand the student experience of learning Odissi dance, anIndian classical dance form in one of the colleges in the U.S.
 
 Background
The Association of American Colleges and Universities has drawn initiatives toensure that every undergraduate student experiences a relevant and challenginggeneral education curriculum. The General Education Curriculum (GEC) is a setof requirements for all students pursuing undergraduate studies. It is an integralpart of the undergraduate curriculum that both complements and supports thestudents’ preparation in their field of specialization and helps students maximizetheir individual potential. Students develop understanding, appreciation, andacceptance of multiple “ways of knowing” (i.e., artistic, literary, philosophical,historical, scientific) through the acquisition, organization, and analysis of specificbodies of knowledge. They are encouraged to acquire aesthetic and appreciativefaculties, to explore and test their own values and ethical frameworks, and todemonstrate sensitivity to diverse perspectives and cultures.Under the purview of the GEC initiative, a college in Ohio offered two courses inOdissi dance to undergraduate students as a part of the World Dance Program,in the Department of Dance for a period of 15 weeks. The parameter of the WorldDance Program is “
to expose students forms beyond American Modern danceand Ballet Students. Because knowledge is culturally contextualized, we believethe body and its physical practices serve as indicators of cultural identity. To thisend it is vital to study not only the physical practice (which is described astechnique class), but also to study the analytical practice which is represented inacademic lectures, discussions and adherence to mainstream theories and methodologies”.
In sync with this objective, one of the courses offered studentsthe experience of the Odissi technique. The second course led students toinvestigate the historical, aesthetic, religious, social, political, economic andecological foundations and accomplishments of Indian culture through its danceforms, both classical and folk. The investigation occurred alongside the study andexperience of the Odissi dance technique.

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