Celebrations in the Helena Roerich Academy of Arts
Third academic year has ended in the Helena Roerich Academy of Arts (HRAA) in the Himalayan Roerich Estate. To mark the event, a ceremony was organized on March 27, 2016 in the International Roerich Memorial Trust. The local children studying in the Academy and their parents took part in the celebrations.
Celebrations opened with the students’ parents visiting the Academy premises where children study painting, dance, music and vocal. Last fall, adjacent to the main Academy building a Cultural-Educational Centre opened, and now young and old have a chance to browse through books sitting on the “reading balcony,” and to visit Computer Room to study computers and browse web.
The ceremony started with the opening of the exhibition of the children’s best drawings and pictorial works in the IRMT Modern Art Exhibition Hall.
Mrs. Sapna Thakur, Painting Teacher, HRAA, not only imparts drawing technique to her students but also nurtures their sense of beauty, and their ability to see the beauty of daily life and people. The displayed works included the scenes of daily Pahari life, local festivals, village houses and ancient temples, the views of Naggar and the surrounding Himalayan scenery.
It is impossible to ignore the fact that the main source of the children’s inspiration is Nicholas Roerich’s personality and creative work. And how could it be otherwise if every Sunday they visit this holy estate saturated with the spirit of this master, and learn from his art. The children’s works include multiple imitations and copies of Nicholas Roerich’s paintings: Tangla, Terra Slavonica, Mongolia, Spring in Kullu, The Sword of Gessar, Dorje the Daring, to name a few.
The topics of the last year children’s painting competitions were related to Nicholas Roerich. Last May the Academy students took part in the competition “Peace through Culture” dedicated to the Roerich Pact anniversary. In August the paintings by Nandita Thakur and Rajat Thakur won the international painting competition “The Image of Hero in the Work of Nicholas Roerich.” In October, on the occasion of Nicholas Roerich’s birth anniversary the children participated in the competition “Let us Preserve the Sublime Heritage of the Past for the Glorious Future! (Himalayan Culture in the Art of Nicholas Roerich). Some of the works that were part of the competition and won prizes were also displayed in the exhibition.
As per tradition, the programme held in the Conference Hall opened with the prayer to Goddess Sarasvati performed by the students of the Academy. Anshul Kumar, Anup Kumar and Pushpa Devi teach music and vocal in the Academy. The students learn popular Indian songs, folk songs from various Himalayan regions, Russian songs (the songs Katyusha and The Voice of y Tomorrow are particularly popular with children). They study such traditional instruments as tabla, sitar and Indian harmonium. In her welcome address to the participants and guests of the celebrations the Russian Curator of the IRMT Mrs. Larisa Surgina noted that the students of the Academy had actively participated in all IRMT cultural events, and their performances had invariably caused the delight and love of the audience. She thanked the parents for entrusting the IRMT Academy with their children’s art education, and expressed hope that due to joint efforts the children’s Academy at the IRMT would evolve into a full-fledged art center.
In his speech the Indian Curator of the IRMT Sh. Ramesh Chander dwelled on the benefits of art education in the world of today. He told the guests about the genuine support the Academy receives from the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh Sh. Virbhadra Singh, and assured them that over time it will develop into a model cultural institution.
Speeches over, the tunes sounded, and the cultural programme prepared by the students and teachers of the Academy began. There was a tabla and sitar performance by the children. With great joy and enthusiasm the boys and girls performed a Nepali dance, and then specially for their parents repeated the dance drama about the hardships women have to face in the contemporary Indian society – the drama which was for the first time performed on the 8th of March on the occasion of the International Women’s Day.
Mamta Thakur, Dance Teacher, HRAA, who teaches Kathak, folk and contemporary dance in the Academy, choreographed the drama.
Another music drama on Rama’s triumph over Ravana and his rescue of Sita staged last October by Mamta Thakur, Anshul Kumar and their colleagues delighted the audience not only in the IRMT but also at the Dusserah celebrations. The Academy students have taken part in this annual festival already twice in a row.
The festivities ended. Achievements of the last year were summed up. “Flowers of Roerich’s Garden,” as Mr. Anshul Kumar solemnly and lovingly called them, received certificates on the completion of the third academic year. In gratitude for their perseverance, good team work and love of children, the young teachers of the Academy were presented the edition of Nicholas Roerich’s paintings from the Himalayan series.
The Academy keeps functioning. Admission for the next academic year has been announced. The students will have new successes and achievements, exciting discoveries and wonderful opportunities. The Academy plans to conduct master classes by artists and musicians, video presentations on the life and work of the Roerichs, lectures on Indian and Russian culture, more painting competitions, exhibitions, meetings and festivals.
Helena Roerich’s words “Through Art You Have Light” have become the motto of the Academy and the guiding star that determines its course.