It may at this juncture be pertinent to try answering the following questions?
From a Student’s point of View :
- How am I dancing ?
- How does my dance come across/ look to the audience ?
- How good are my adavus/nritta?
- Are they any rules to be followed while practising the adavus?
- Is quanity more important than quality, or in other words is it important to master what is learnt before progressing ahead.
- What are the yard sticks to measure my accomplishmentso far?
From a Teacher’s point of View :
- How do I explain to my students about how their dance comes across/ looks to the audience ?
- Are there any blanket rules that can be followed while training students on the adavus?
- Is quantity more important than quality, or in other words is it important to master what is learned, before progressing ahead.
- How do I support self assessment or discretion in my students?
Here are a few points that have struck me in my experience…
- Eye Movement/Drishti Rules: Abhinaya Darpana, an ancient text that delves into the nuances of classical Indian dance lays down this famous Sloka:
” Yatho Hasta Thatho Drishti,
YathoDrishti Thatho Manah
Yatho Manah Thatho Bhaava,
Yatho Bhaava Thatho Rasa “
This can be roughly translated as follows…
Where the hands(hasta) are, go the eyes (drishti); where the eyes are, goes the mind(mana); where the mind goes, there is an expression of inner feeling (Bhava) and where there is bhava, mood or sentiment(rasa) is evoked.
I t can easily be seen that your drishti/eye movement goes a long way in determining the success of your dance.
At this point of time, when adavus are being learned it may be said that the Eyes follow the movement of your hand. This is a good indicator of the student’s involvement and understanding.
2. Posture/ geometry rules:
Bharathanatyam apart from being visual poetry is also visual geometry. The dance form itself is characterized by the absolute symmetry and perfect geometry of its movements. A technical excellence in these aspects may be referred to as”Angashuddha” and ‘Savustavam” in the technical lingo. We should satisfy ourselves in loosely explaining these terms as a combination of good posture, balance , centering, symmetry and geometric correctness. let’s look at the fig. above to have a rough idea.
3. Hasta rules:
Hastas need to be clear and well defined to improve aesthetics and in later lessons to make communication clear. It is not unlikely for katamukhams turning to some unidentifiable insect, tirupathakams to fall and alapadmams to wither away unless conscious effort is put in. This effort will become natural and should be unconsciously executed by dancers with practice.
4. Foot Work rules: Foot work should be firm and the tapping does not need to be unduly loud/soft. Remember to maintain the arch of you foot while tapping. To soft a tap may never give the feeling of rhythmic correctness and too loud a tap tires you out too soon.
So to make a short note out of it here are the rulles
- Maintain a good posture
- Follow your hand movements with your eyes
- Keep hastas clear and firm.
- Be firm and careful with your foot step.
This is in no way a complete list of rules that guarantee great dance, but just an aid. Observation is the key. Watch more and see what should be imbibed and what should be avoided.
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