Bharatanatyam in its performative form consists of music, rhythm, facial expressions, and hand gestures. However, as students and practitioners of Bharatanatyam, we are also expected to have a general appreciation of colors, props, lights, geometry, literature, philosophy, design, fabric, and history. In my work using Bharatanatyam for creative aging, I have the opportunity to include many of these artistic modalities to enable creative expression. Two examples are: the use of poetry for sessions with Arts for the Aging, and the use of visual art for sessions with The Creative Center.
As a teaching artist for Arts for the Aging, certified poetry therapist Lauren Mazow Boyle and I presented a series of workshops entitled "The Body Poetic: Exploration through Indian Dance and Poetry". We explore how Bharatanatyam entwines with the poetic arts.
The visual arts are another way to bring alive the expressive power of Bharatanatyam. In a series called "Rasas in the Now" with The Creative Center, participants explore rasas (emotions) through movement and color. Participants are encouraged to think about specific events related to an emotion (e.g. "what evokes the feeling of wonder in you?") and Programs & Partnerships Coordinator Liz Rubel supplements dance with an exploration of color specific to each rasa.
For adbhuta (the feeling of wonder), we explored Sri. Tulsidas's famous poem Thumaki Chalat, which describes the sounds a child's anklets make as he is learning to walk. With Liz's guidance, we transformed movement into colors and patterns with pastels. The image is my interpretation of the anklets, the music they make, and the stumbling toddle of the child!