‘Culture is the sum of all the forms of art, of love, and of thoughts, which in the course of centuries have enabled man to be less enslaved’ - Andre Malraux
Performing arts at their very core serve as one of the most significant, dynamic, participation, and social influences on human behaviour and interaction. When put together, they have the ability to generate empathy, stir up dialogue, induce reflection and charter new relationships and ideas.
Performing arts also provide a commanding and democratic way of sharing, shaping, and expressing human values. They allow us to explore our inner capabilities and give us insight into how we imagine and use different means to relate with each other.
The UNESCO’s 2003 convention on Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage came up with five broad realms that demonstrate the Intangible Cultural Heritage of any state or nation. Performing Arts and Traditional craftsmanship are two of the five realms that ipassio strives to maintain and preserve.
These realms are living expressions that have been passed down to us from our ancestors as intangible cultural heritage. These have been a source of learning, recreation, and mental health.
Learners today are picking up these art forms with great enthusiasm, lesser do they realise how well they are playing their role in preserving the cultural heritage. Keep reading to learn the importance of passion learning and how it is a cross-over between recreation, culture, education, and mental health!
What are Performing Art Forms?
Performing art is a form of expression, a means of communication, through which the artist connects with oneself and in many cases with an audience too. The plethora of human emotions can be rendered through these art forms, which can be broadly categorized into music, dance, theatre, and painting. These art forms originated mainly with the purpose of exhibiting and propagating religious beliefs and social reforms. Later these art forms became a tool of expression and entertainment worldwide.
There also came a time when communities and governments of different nations thought that these art forms will be lost in the pages of history, but thanks to skilled teachers and learners, the rich cultural heritage is being revived successfully. Interestingly, in the case of India, Bharatamuni’s Natyashastra is the earliest textbook on performing arts.
Music finds its earliest mention in the ancient text, Sama Veda, which was rich in Shlokas set to music. Even today, many of our rituals are incomplete without Vedic chantings. Indian music branched into Hindustani classical music and Carnatic classical music. The two genres gave birth to modern Indian music too. Besides, the Medieval period witnessed Sufi and Bhakti music. Bhajans and Kirtans were usually performed by Bhakti saints, and Qawwalis were performed in Sufi Khanqahs.
The music of various communities and groups became popular as folk music. Nazrul Geeti of Bengal, Mand of Rajasthan, and Ragini of Haryana are some of the popular folk music genres popular in the country.
Dance had been a symbolic expression of religious ideas in traditional Indian culture. From classical, and folk, to modern dance forms, have witnessed transformation beyond words, but the purpose of the art forms remains the same, which is to ‘express’.
Lord Shiva in the Nataraja pose represents the cosmic cycle of creation and destruction, through his dance, Tandava!
Kathakali, Bharatnatyam, Kathak, Manipuri, Kuchipudi, and Odissi are some of the important aspects of our intangible cultural heritage.
It is the performing art that humankind has practised since the dawn of time. Our ancient texts like the Ramayana and Kautilya’s Athashastra mention that people exhibited the love and the wrath of deities, conveyed the message of good over evil, and enacted wars, through dramatic performances.
Patanjali's Mahabhasya, written in the second century B.C., refers to several aspects of drama, including the actors, music, stage, and rasa (or emotion) in the performances.
The Relation between Performing Arts and Cultural Heritage
Performing art forms and skills associated with traditional craftsmanship are significant in terms of maintaining cultural diversity in the face of growing globalisation. Promoting these art forms leads to an understanding of the intangible cultural heritage of different communities which in turn stirs up mutual respect for each other’s ways of life.
Inspiring enthusiasts to pick up learning these skills is one way of passing down the wealth of knowledge and skills from one generation to the next. And one of the most effective ways to escalate the social and economic values of the rich art forms. Let us understand how arts and culture are related to one another.
Conventional and Modern at the Same Time
The inherited arts represent the rich past where they originated and the present where they are alive through skilled teachers (the propagators of the art forms) and zealous learners (the successors of the art forms). The uniqueness of the performing arts lies in the fact that they derive inspiration from ancient traditions and combine the experimentative attitudes of modern teachers and learners.
A Sense of Identity and Continuity
The art forms mostly represent communities, states, and in the broader sense, nations. This contributes to the diversity of performing arts and gives a sense of identity, exclusivity, and continuity to groups to which they originally belonged.
Performing arts can profoundly impact how cultures and societies develop and change over time. These art forms have been used to distinguish cultural groups from one another or to communicate similarities or differences among people. More recently, especially in mass media and commercial ventures, art has the power to shape the way that cultural identities are formed, or enforce certain values that make up who we think we are.
A Sense of Inclusivity
There is unity in diversity even in the case of performing arts. The knowledge encapsulated within these skills is not only passed down to generations but is shared among communities as well. Not only do they help people a part of a community and of society in the broader sense. But, Performing Arts link us to the past and into the future.
They undoubtedly impact the ways that societies transform and grow. The arts have a long history of intersecting with many areas of our lives. Though the intersections between the arts and other subjects are endless, let's take a look at how the visual and performing arts connect with communication, history, and anthropology.
Art as communication
The visual and performing arts are powerful tools for communication. They allow artists to communicate particular points of view or express attitudes or sentiments about an aspect of society that often stem from personal experience. They also allow artists to cultivate particular responses in their audiences that reflect their social critiques.
Performing Arts as a tool of Expression
Various art forms also complement each other and can be combined for a more intense effect. When the visual arts, drama, and music are combined in the form of cinematography, for example, the power of the arts to inform and persuade intensifies.
Consider the recent upsurge in environmental documentaries. This type of film uses strong visual imagery and musical accompaniment to dramatize particular environmental messages. By using the arts, the documentaries also play on the audience's emotions to convey the information in ways that resonate more strongly.
On a Concluding Note!
Not only these art forms are a means to revive our cultural heritage, but they also serve as a means to educate and liberate those who pick up learning them. When a learner embarks on a journey to become an artist, under the guidance of a skilled teacher, they lay a solid foundation for that particular art form, through values like discipline, dedication, humility, and compassion.