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Teacher Blog: Shiva Nataraja, Cosmic Dancer - Evenings for Educators Preview

by Amy Cholkas, New Richmond Middle School


teacher blog , Shiva Nataraja , Beyond Bollywood

January’s Evening for Educators will feature a tour of the exhibition Beyond Bollywood: 2000 Years of Dance in Art. This interactive art exhibition explores the power of dance, not only in everyday life, but in religious thought and worship in South Asia.  

Middle and high school art students from New Richmond (Ohio) recently completed sculptures inspired by the museum’s Processional Image of Shiva Nataraja, Lord of the Dance (circa 1500–1600, displayed in the new Anu and Shekhar Gallery of South Asian Art). As Nataraja, the Hindu god, Shiva performs his cosmic dance (tandava) as he shakes an hour-glass shaped drum (damaru) in his right hand. Mimicking the cyclical patterns of life, Shiva Nataraja creates, maintains, destroys, and transforms the universe with his dance and the fire (agni) he holds in his left hand.

In the bronze sculpture of Shiva Nataraja, the god’s dancing movement is captured by his uplifted left leg, bent right leg, and his four raised arms. After discussing how this sculpture shows movement, the New Richmond students formed their own armatures from wire and then covered the structures with paper mâché to create a solid form. They added paint and embellishments to complete their dancing sculptures.

Join me for this month’s Evening for Educators, on Thursday, January 19, at 4 p.m., to learn more about Shiva Nataraja and the long history of dance through art. To view a brief video presentation about the sculpture, visit CAM Look on YouTube hosted by the museum’s Alex Otte Callon.