Using the complexity inherent in Bharatanatyam for creative aging
Bharatnatyam is an incredibly complex dance form! However, we can use this complexity to our advantage and to benefit our older adult populations. Layering skills ensure that all participants have something to work on, no matter if they are new to Bharatanatyam, or have been learning for a while.
In this video, I show how we can layer skills using the imagery of elephants. Seated, in a count of four, we can sway from side to side evoking the stability and sure-footedness of elephants, and then, with the hasta “Arala”, we can show its ears. These movements also make effective use of our gaze.
Next, we can use “Mukula” hasta to show the trunk of an elephant as it is trying to get a piece of fruit (above), or water (below). The effect of the trunk can be created with the entire arm or the hands. We can also emphasize that the impact of the trunk can be created with the eyes, which is just as beautiful and perhaps more nuanced as compared to the other options.
Complexity and layering skills
In previous Vichaar posts, we looked at the idea of complexity as it applies to science and dance. We talked about how the brain processes complex information and makes decisions in the face of uncertainty. We also looked at reductionism as one way by which scientists study complex things.
Bharatanatyam is ideal for older adults, as we can use this inherent complexity to our advantage! This means layering skills that participants can work on, no matter if they are new to Bharatanatyam, or have been learning for a while. In a group setting, layering skills also gives participants an opportunity to show and teach one another, which builds camaraderie and connections in the groups.
In the next post, we will see an example of layering skills using the example of elephants. I chose elephants because of their stability, and because baby elephants bring up images of playfulness and fun!