Does an underprivileged child have a choice to become a dancer or musician? For Lavanya Selvaratnam, the answer is a resounding yes.
As a firm believer in the enhancing powers of the arts, the Bharatanatyam teacher says more people need to realise the important role that artistic influence can have in the lives of youth, especially those from troubled backgrounds.
“I myself come from humble beginnings and dance played a significant role to help me overcome many challenges.
“Lady luck was not especially on my side but I gained resilience and a fighting spirit through my involvement in dance and also with support from my loved ones,” Lavanya tells Eksentrika.
Armed with full faith in the benefits of movement, especially to transform the lives of youths, Lavanya formed LS Creation, with partner, Saisuetha Satchithananthan in 2015. Together they wanted to instill an appreciation for the arts among low income urban communities, and did so by offering Indian classical dance lessons to underprivileged youths.
In four years, they noticed a tremendous uplifting in the confidence of their students.
“They were showing major developments such as having a greater sense of responsibility and seeking help or solutions instead of bottling up their feelings.
“Some started to share their dreams and learnt to place trust in others and so much more,” said Lavanya, who also lectures in Psychology for a living.
Her outreach efforts however, were not without challenges; one of the biggest barriers being adult family members who needed to be convinced on the vital and positive influence of the arts on youth.
Many think of the arts as a hindrance to education, a mere pastime or just another hobby. They do not understand how art can empower and reinvent our children, especially those who could be trapped in circumstances they could not choose,” says Lavanya.
Over the past year, Lavanya’s dance organisation, LS Creation, decided to collaborate with Kogeelavani Muniandy of Goodkids Malaysia, to come up with a unique performance piece called, “When Bells Meet Buckets.”
As the name suggests, it will feature a combination of Indian classical dance, famously identified by the sound of anklet bells, together with less conventional percussion instruments, in the form of plastic buckets and DIY drumsticks.
The pairing is a symbolic fusion of traditional discipline and modern ingenuity; with a story line inspired by the realities faced by the affected youths themselves.
“This is a show of breaking stereotypes about and how art can affect positive change. We want the public to see what they need to stop ignoring,” she says, adding that their initiative helped prevent these children from becoming delinquents.
Come December 6 and December 7, a group of 14 to 19 year olds will come together to perform “When Bells Meet Buckets”.
Most of them are of Indian descent, from Lembah Subang and Batu Caves, however, teens from other ethnic backgrounds have also been roped in for the showcase.
The teenagers will be unleashing their rhythmic talents at KuAsh Theatre, in TTDI. Tickets are priced between RM60, RM80 and RM100 may be purchased by calling Lavanya Selvaratnam at 012-6845697 or Koggelavani Muniandy at 019-352 9953.
*** All images including header were provided by LS Creation.
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