By Yamini Deenadayalan
Mioi Nakayama moved from Hiroshima to Bengaluru seven years ago to set up the residential Born Free Art School. Trained in Bharatnatyam and Kalaripayuttu, she employs dance therapy for street children. “I believe in the transformative power of art,” she says. “It’s also therapeutic because performing in front of an audience boosts the children’s self-confidence.” Some kids have been in prison, while others used to sell coconuts on the street before joining the school. They are taught art, photography and theatre among other things. The school also encourages these children to go for formal education. Some ex-students now teach in the school and some perform in other theatre groups. “Right now, we’re working on a play about an elephant that Jawaharlal Nehru gifted the children of Japan, with animal rights and values woven in,” says Mioi. The play will be performed at zoos across the country. Born to activist parents, Mioi grew up in Hiroshima. Attending a United Nations children’s conference in New York 11 years ago made her decide to work on children’s issues. Soon after, she landed in Bengaluru where she set up her school. And yes, she can speak fluent Kannada, something she learnt from her pupils.
Mioi can be reached at +91 98860 11830