August 2016 : We were excited to hear the news that Hetal Nagaraj got accepted for Masters Program at TDES via Tamil University in August 2016. College: Kalai Kaveri College of Fine Arts, Trichy, India.
A label & ID of OKC213160083A was given to her as Hetal Mahesh Joshi. She would mock to her students that she got her roll-number/student id too and that she is student too. Some of her students started calling her Hetal since then :).
Her inspiration of having a master degree in fine arts comes directly from one of her own cousin’s spouse/bhabhi (sister in law & aunt-2way relation:) who was enrolled in Masters Program @Darpana Academy, Ahmedabad India. Her Bhabhi had to leave her degree half-way for personal reasons and since then, Hetal Nagaraj had her mind set on doing Masters in either bharatnatyam, or theater with full dance work, at some point of time.
Finding a university or dance program that not only offers robust MASTERS program of Bharatnatyam but also offers in-depth knowledge of Natya Shashtra, History, Styles, Theaters and Musicals with the flexibility of long distance program was a challenge. Hetal Nagaraj got accepted in 2 universities for this program with her dance experience, video clips of main margam, creative bharatnatyam dances, direct referral letters from her past dance teachers and her existing Master Degrees in other education stream that she already had. Rest all the universities had a requirement to do a full 2 year resident program and stay local for full two years with classes non-stop through the week and weekend! For those in India or want to pursue their degree in India for on-campus degrees within India, most welcome to contact Hetal Nagaraj:firstname.lastname@example.org, she’ll be very happy to guide you for all these courses.
Biggest Challenge for Hetal Nagaraj was that she can’t just leave a young family and pursue dreams while running a full fledge A+ rating dance business with multiple locations, competitive performance schedules (almost every other month) in Bharatnatyam, Indian Folk Dances, Bollywood, Workshops, Elite performing team and all of that with her students taking part in competitions. Once you are married happily ever-after & have family, it is a package for whole family to achieve something as big as degree especially if parents are taking them; irrespective of whether or not you are in dance business! Whole family goes hand in hand to actually make it happen. Entire month of kids activities, planning meals for whole family, routines with home works, car-pooling, classes shuffled between choreographers as applicable in her absence, volunteer parents, website maintenance and it was STAAR Exam time for kids as well.
TDES via Tamil University gave her the options to not only be competitive at learning edge but flexibility to travel to Chennai for at-least one out of two degree years to give on-campus bharatnatyam theory exams, assignments, thesis/research, presentations, do practical exams, live concert, musical and folk dance drama to be showcased before the teachers for grading.
All these dances were with full makeup and relevant costumes and costume change as required. Further, she decided to choose her degree location at Don Bosco College of Arts And Science, Chennai, India as her on-campus exam training (1 month required in person or average of 20-days) and examinations (practical and theory, in person). She decided Chennai as her location considering that Tamil History was one of the main subject and so she wanted to stay around Chennai to complete her research subject from locally available sources such as libraries, bookstores and visits to local dance schools. Don Bosco College of Arts And Science was her pick from the list due to her past upbringing of Convent Schools in Gandhinagar(India) and then affiliated programs at Ahmedabad(India) due to its discipline, environment, experiences and education standards.
At first the initial plan was to go in second year. Plans changed when the syllabus arrived in Fedex from university with a whopping 22 dance items to take care of, showcase them, write 1 research paper each year, minimum of 2 assignments per year, minimum of 1 presentation per year, LIVE concert, nattuvangam, talam, ragam and Tamil History with all terms in Tamil. It was her husband Nagaraj who insisted that with this type of syllabus, she should take this as an opportunity and must go personally both the years, just like any student would do for each year in any other Masters Program.
The dance items and other master level dances required hours of practices and a mentor/guide to correct/remind as required because of complexity in choreography. They were in speed 2, 3 and 4 at a cutting edge but not a sweet cherry on the top, most in 3 and 4!
It isn’t for a regular bharatnatyam dancer who is barely trained and could still handle that type of work with that intense choreography. Complexity with speed 3 and 4 was tough nut after a long time for Hetal Nagaraj.
She learned latest concepts in Bharatanatyam which she had never learned or were not taught in North India probably because back then these were taught @post-arangetram level only. Most of these concepts were added to standard margam by Kalakshetra Foundation founded by Rukmani Devi, Chennai and by renowned Bharatanatyam Artists in multiple styles.
Thus the degree curriculum included Main Margam Items, Non-Margam Items as well as Additional Creative Choreography from renowned artist of Mysore Bani, Pandanallur Bani, Thanjavur Bani and Kalakshetra Bani margam as a compulsory LIVE concert-all of this with grading. While Vazhuvur Bani was one of the sub-topic for Mrs. Hetal Nagaraj as part of her research/dissertation. She took several skype/watsapp video classes from her guide Dr. Marie Stella who taught and corrected her for the possibilities in margam bharatnatyam dances with nattuvangam.
Her journey to full month stay at training and exam center for both the years were absolutely amazing! She stepped into this whole new world of Bharatnatyam with the infinite possibilities and complexities in southern India.
From what she thought would be questionable to do in various margam dances was NOW possible in unlimited combinations further. This experience opened a whole new creativity level in musicals, dance themes, concepts, usage of jatis and adavus in various permutations and combinations.
She implemented those concepts and was able to successfully use them not only in Bharatnatyam but in Indian Folk Dances and Bollywood/Tollywood/Indian Movie Dances of Grace And Grooves LLC giving exceptionally beautiful results with least amount of effort even for Bharatnatyam.
It took her 2 full years (2016 to 2018) for her to complete her degree in Masters In Fine Arts with whole family involved. This includes all our lovely students’ parents of our private classes who walked with her in her journey very beautifully as she had to meet her deadlines of submissions or had her parallel skype classes.
With the type of knowledge that she gained in practical classes (skype/video watsapp/in person @Pondicherry) with her guide Dr. Marie Stella and during monthly in-house trainings, she thanks god that it did not happen in a click of button.
It would be too much for human brain to absorb all that, if it were to happen! She thanks her Tamil friends’ grand-parents (who were bharatnatyam dancers themselves) who helped her with very old tamil dialects for her theory papers that required compulsory usage of these words for grading. A lot of her regional tamil friends from chennai as well found it difficult to explain or understand these terms. All of that happened for Hetal Nagaraj for both the years back to back, one year at a time with proper planning.
Don’t even wish for a degree in 1 day with a click of a button. It is not going to help you! It is the training from all the right people that will never fail you and that you will not experiment on students because you have studied each scenario with pros and cons & thus it is available for you to use in your own creative way, very very safely!
Just that common sense is something that no university will ever teach you and to master that you will have to let go your ego ;). This is irrespective of your age!
We strongly recommend all bharatnatyam dancers who are interested to go for this course provided you have the following :
- Zeal, patience, energy, money (investment in INR), and proper planning to do so.
- You should have done bharatnatyam up-to varnam level and above at some point in your life to be able to handle this type of work. Arangetram is irrelevant.
- Style of bharatnatyam will not matter for this particular degree because their program itself includes multiple styles.
- You must submit videos of any of these with other degrees that you have to become eligible for this program.
- Private classes with your guide will be required to get your smoothly through this journey with deadlines, protocols to be followed and your guide will help you with the following as well :
- if you have learned your bharatnatyam in non-traditional or conventional ways or you had several breaks through out your learning, or nattavangams, ragam, talam were not part of your training then you will have to educate yourself with these.
- Nattuvangam, Recitation of Jatis and Adavus are graded.
- In-person practicals, concerts participation is required. Must be ready to showcase all of above or as asked with full costume, makeup, hair-do; irrespective of any help available. Makeup artist may/may not be available.
- Expect morning 9am to 5pm dance routines and as you get closer to exams it will be 9am to 11pm practice hours. If you have any physical disability, come with doctor’s note or do not apply!
- List/selections of locations, accommodation to be take care by you while these will be required during your on campus trainings and all exams.
- Paid meals 3 times a day at the campus canteen and everything is available around the area.
- Most important-you should be ready to go for a month (average of 20 days approx and add 2 more days to get the feel of area and shopping for your concert). Attendance is strictly required during all the days for the on-campus classes and exams.
Best if you go both years. It will be worth a trip….
Specifics are mentioned deliberately in detail as an effort to provide all the information that you may need as a student to apply!
Hetal Nagaraj says I did it and she will love to guide you to do it too!
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