How does my dance training make me a better scientist?
Communication of ideas: Both as a scientist and as a dancer, my job is to reach out to people. I feel that my dance training helps me a great deal when I am talking to non-specialists. Communication of ideas and emotions through words, performance, gestures, and facial expressions in dance translates to my scientific world as well.
For example, when I was developing articles on epilepsy for a lay audience, my dance training helped me connect with people and imagine myself in the shoes of a mother of a child with epilepsy. What kinds of information would a parent of a child with epilepsy want to know? This is the kind of insight that I can pass along to my trainees as well, who have written several articles on several basic science aspects of epilepsy.
Similarly, when I perform to a Western audience, I need to give them some background of what they are about to see, given that the art form and its cultural context may not be familiar to all. But, what's a good balance to strike? How much do people need to know beforehand to appreciate what I am about to perform?
Exploring the boundaries of "knowing": For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by what it is to know something. Does "knowing" in its true sense mean being able to recall information, add to information, or all of it?
Specifically, my journey as a dancer and scientist combines this fascination for what it is to know, making peace with not knowing the complete picture, and allowing for space for additional information to complete the picture.
Exploring the boundaries of "not knowing": Pushing the boundaries of not knowing is also extremely interesting to me. Does our study of the biology of electrical impulses tell us about our mind and why we feel wistful about something? Does the study of movement (as in episode 2 of Vichaar) tell us why we find joy in moving?
Appreciating beauty: At the end of the day, I find both, neuroscience and Bharatanatyam beautiful in an intuitive way.
I think there is something beautiful in acknowledging that we cannot know how the brain works by looking at electrical impulses, and we cannot know art by looking at its components.