The pandemic has introduced up questions and conversations on a gamut of considerations within the dance fraternity, together with efficiency areas, content material, consumption, programming, cost modalities and funding. These aren’t considerations within the dance world which have emerged now. They’ve solely resurfaced in a ‘new regular’ existence, with a heightened urgency. Amidst these considerations, apply, a seemingly non-urgent side of dance, that has at all times remained so, deserves centre stage. Whereas throughout the constraints of a lockdown, the ‘creation’ of some new concepts and the ‘dissolution’ of some outdated dependencies are being addressed by on-line platforms and different programs, ‘sustenance’ of abilities as a dancer by significant apply, requires extra consideration within the present enforced life-style.
We have a tendency to make use of sure phrases interchangeably with others, to the purpose that the meant which means fades off. Apply and rehearsal, as an example. Whereas each are seemingly synonymous, a rehearsal is usually focussed on a sure efficiency or the same final result, whereas the objective of apply ideally is exploration and evolution. Usually, dance apply is related to a session of sweating it out bodily. Whereas exercise or an equal shouldn’t be an exclusion, it’s a restricted definition of what apply constitutes. Such an affiliation comes from causes rooted within the tradition and pedagogy of dance. Pedagogically, dance educating over time has shifted its emphasis considerably by encouraging ‘watching’ as the first methodology of studying. Culturally, it may very well be traced again to notions of ‘applied sciences of domination and applied sciences of the self’ advised by French historian and thinker, Michel Foucault. The ‘applied sciences of domination’ could also be outlined because the modes of data manufacturing and organisation, that decide the conduct of the people and restrict their decisions in such a manner as to foster exercise and productiveness. The stress to be productive in a sure manner, in unprecedented instances equivalent to the present lockdown part, takes away from the transformation potential of apply.
The ‘applied sciences of the self,’ however, allow growth of autonomous discourses, composed of concepts, attitudes and perception methods in motion, that allow as a lot as they restrain. The restraint, nevertheless, is a acutely aware selection, contemplating that the self-construction of those discourses continues to be a perform of the tradition and context they’re embedded in. A considerate physicality throughout the established aesthetic, permits dancers to be energetic individuals, taking possession of their studying.
Just a few conversations with dancers from completely different streams of invested apply, additional reinforce the above dialogue. “Apply extends past a sure kind or fashion, to apply of a sure functionality and suppleness. A functionality of utilizing areas, assets or the perceived lack of them to discover, create and uncover, and a flexibility to completely different potentialities, represent a artistic apply,” says Shabari Rao, dancer, educator and researcher. The lockdown led to cancellation of an artist residency at New York College and at Performatica 2020 in Mexico and allowed her quite a lot of time at her farm close to Magadi. “What I practise and the modality itself has developed. Whereas mornings are extra directed and with intention, I spend time through the day constructing on some concepts. It’s typically the identical yoga routine or a trek within the mountains and exploring my voice, which is inhibiting to do in my house within the metropolis,” she shares. “Whereas I’m nonetheless determining the way it feeds into my work, I now don’t see apply as one thing one is compelled to do, somewhat, it simply occurs on a regular basis,” she provides. As an intentional state of being, driving away notions of what counts and what doesn’t, from getting in the best way of artistic potential, she feels now is a good alternative to practise ‘letting go,’ with out the urgency of an final result.
In an Indian classical context, it’s that rather more troublesome to not succumb to productiveness and tangibility in apply. For instance, in Bharatanatyam, the triad of Arangetram, pattern of merchandise educating, and robust efficiency orientation within the studying and profession of a dancer, imposes a burden of productiveness and takes away the chance to speculate time and thought into understanding motion from a deeper perspective. The concept of understanding motion bodily somewhat than visually, calls for brand new bodily experiences which might be needed however inadequate within the growth of practices that represent a know-how of the self, sufficient to withstand the applied sciences of domination. These ideas have been developed additional in a dialog with Bharatanatyam exponents Vijna Vasudevan and Renjith Babu, on what’s required for a conscious apply and for educating on-line within the present state of affairs.
The position and significance of breath find the stream of motion, turned out to be one of the vital elaborated features of the dialog with Renjith Babu. He vouches for the creation of an consciousness of fundamental motion, as it’s achieved in Yoga, Pilates or any comparable self-discipline, as important for a dancer. It types a foundation for any additional articulation or connection to be established in approach.
“It’s mindfulness, energy and stability that come even earlier than a mirror and inform a dancer of their acceptable stances,” he explains, after heaving a sigh over the pattern of apply itself turning into a efficiency over the previous couple of months. He additional talks about parts of classical dance equivalent to Mudras, Pada Bhedas, Charis, and so on., as instruments for conscious apply. “A easy Natyarambam with breath regulation, slowly transferring to an Alarippu with a metronome, recording one’s personal chollu, and so on., might represent a self-regulated apply,” he provides.
Vijna Vasudevan highlights the standard challenges in educating on-line, particularly within the case of Abhinaya. “The significance of language/articulation and the way it impacts the best way a motion is perceived, and the understanding of the strengths and weaknesses as dancers, are essential in educating by on-line mediums,” she shares. She additionally empathetically talks about college students, who aren’t full-time dancers and the significance of devising a plan, holding their hand and permitting them to take possession of the method. To her, nurturing the thoughts interprets to with the ability to let college students see themselves, their existence with a person steadiness of actuality. At instances, dance can be a manner of momentarily breaking away from what’s going on round us, she feels.
Every strategy to constructing a strong apply is particular person and it is perhaps thought-about as a salad, with a recipe however. An equal emphasis in honing the physique in addition to the thoughts in dance, leads in direction of a cohesive complete of a dancer. At a time when “normalcy” in dance appears a far-off imaginative and prescient, the chance of unlearning of ordinary methods as a dancer, is perhaps a extra crucial final result than studying itself.
The creator is a dancer/instructor from the Temple of Positive Arts, pursuing her analysis research at Royal Academy of Dance, London.
(The primary of a two-part article on sustenance of abilities as a dancer)
Illustrations are by Veena Basavarajaiah, a motion artist, who addresses problems with the artwork world by her insta profile cartoon_natyam.