Bhumi Academy is engaged in developing an innovative method for teaching and learning Odissi that draws on both eastern and western understanding and uses of the performing body. This method emphasises the importance of developing dance skills in a harmonious and exciting way.
Learning is harmonious when it goes from the simple to the complex, when it develops in breadth and depth, when is systematic in building up particular skills and when is grounded in the understanding and respect of individual bodies. Learning is exciting when is perceived as meaningful, when it links the unfamiliar to the familiar, when it pushes the limits of one's comfort zone, when teaching is thorough, clear and well informed and when there is space for playfulness, curiosity and intelligent questioning.
Bhumi Method grows from the belief that precision, discipline and knowledge should always be combined with creativity, inquisitiveness and safety.
Our pedagogic method includes attention to all the following elements:
WARM UP: we use breathing, body-mind centring and gentle conditioning exercises derived from yoga, western ballet, contemporary dance and pilates.
DANCE-SPECIFIC EXERCISES: we have developed a set of exercises that work on style-specific skills. These exercises are meant to understand the principles of odissi technique and prepare the body for more complex combinations of movements, which are typically used in this style.
DANCE TECHNIQUE: we teach a rich palette of movements that explore all the possible ways of using the body in the distinctive odissi style. This palette includes the study of steps on the spot, with variations of footwork, arm and hand combinations, ways of travelling, use of different levels and directions. We have also developed 'studies' of particular movements or skills, which are meant to clarify specific technical aspects, develop a more conscious understanding of technique and generally expand the dancer's vocabulary.
DANCE CHOREOGRAPHY: in addition to teaching routines and items of the traditional repertoire, we have created short choreographic studies, based on particular skills or inspired by particular mythological characters.
DANCE COMPOSITION: we have exercises that introduce students to the principles of composition and nurture their creativity and choreographic skills.
DANCE THEORY: we use and teach dance specific terminology and incorporate cultural and contextual knowledge in practical sessions, in order to allow dancers to navigate the complexity of the form and understand its philosophical, mythological and social underpinnings.
COOL DOWN: we practice deep stretching and relaxation mainly using yoga asanas.
This method is based on knowledge and skills we have learned from our teachers (both in India and in the West), as well as on original exercises and studies of movements we have developed in our own personal pedagogic research. This method is innovative as it combines principles acquired in different contexts in order to ensure a more holistic approach to learning dance.