Fans jump at chance to learn Yakshagana online

As much as ‘work from home’ has become the norm during the pandemic, so has ‘learn from home’. While popular arts have gone online by way of performances and classes, niche forms, such as Yakshagana, are attracting new groups of learners from across the world.

Prasad Cherkady, who has been involved in Yakshagana for 18 years, was teaching groups of learners at various places, including KH Kala Soudha, VV Puram, Konakunte and R.T. Nagar. During the lockdown, when performing spaces had to down their shutters, he hit upon the idea of starting online classes from July. The response has been encouraging. He has been getting enquiries not just from people in Karnataka, but also from other parts of the country and the world.

“People are calling from Dubai and USA too, apart from other parts of India. Even those who are not from Karnataka are interested in learning Yakshagana. We have seen this trend in the offline classes too. We ensure that the teaching medium is Kannada and English, though the script remains Kannada,” he said.

The online classes will be held once a week, but recorded material, audio and video notes will be circulated through the week, he added.

Sathish Agpala, who has spent 12 years in Yakshagana, is also starting online classes from July. “We will start with a basic foundation course where students will be taught sangeeta basics and initiation into makeup. We have received 500 enquiries from the Gulf countries, USA and different parts of India. Most of them are natives of Dakshina Kannada and Uttara Kannada, but other people too are showing interest,” he said.

Online classes, he said, are turning out to be more advantageous than the offline classes he usually conducts in VV Puram. “A lot of time is saved as most learners would take an hour to reach the venue of the one-hour class. This resulted in a lot of dropouts. Online classes ensure a more continuous learning process and has abundance of information. It also works out to be more economical and transcends geographical boundaries,” he explained.


Discussing the potential of online learning, he says, “I think a hybrid model involving the best of both offline and online teaching will become popular.”

The learners agree. Suparsh Jain, 34, a software engineer from Bengaluru, always wanted to learn Yakshagana as he has a few relatives who are artistes. Offline classes did not work out for him. He has enrolled in an online class. “Though there is nothing better than being physically present in front of a teacher, especially in dance and similar art forms, online is the second best option, more so during the present situation,” he said.

Kowshik Kukkemane, 32, a native of Dharmasthala who is now a post doctoral research scholar in Hyderabad, said online classes are a boon for people like him, who always wanted to learn the popular art form. “I had grown up watching Yakshagana, but never got an opportunity to learn. When online classes were announced, I immediately joined. I can easily spare time on the weekends and learn, maybe not as a profession, but definitely as a hobby. I hope to be part of some performances too in the future,” he said.

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Sagar Biswas

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