When dance meets science 

by Ekatmata Sharma
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Delhi-based Bharatnatyam dancer Bhargavi Gopalan is a Dance Scientist who aims to spread education about the importance of science in dance through her ‘creativity through movement’ workshops. As Ekatmata Sharma, attends one of the workshops, she gets informed about the new study in dance called ‘Dance Science’. Bhargavi shares with her the ideas and concepts behind this new study and its benefits in practical world.

What is Dance science?

Dance science is an understanding of the scientific principles behind dance. It could be the physiological, psychological, biochemical or somatic aspect. A dance scientist studies and researches in these areas. I did my masters in Dance Science from University of Bedfordshire. My topic of thesis was on a particular movement in Bharatnatyam called “Aramandi”. It is a very technical movement. Hence, I researched on how in that movement there is a relationship between your muscular indifferences. As a dancer is constantly doing a movement, is he/she is having a muscular indifference? Are dancers using a body part more than required than others? We all do that in life. We use a particular body part more than the other. We develop a posture over a period of time. In research a lot of it can be tackled. I am bridging the gap between theory and practice. For that workshops are an excellent medium. At the end of it is all about education about dance. I try to break the technicalities of dance in simple terms. I want to fill the gap between research and practical usage.

At what age you picked up dance?

Dance happened to me when I was seven-year-old. I was an introvert child, so my parents wanted me to go out and connect with people. They chose Bharatnatyam dance for me as I a medium to connect with the society. I kept learning Bharatnatyam until I was 18-year-old. It’s part of me now. It’s my entire childhood. I studied Engineering major and a minor in dance. That’s when I decided I wanted to do dance science. During my undergraduate, I was already researching how dance and science are inter-connected. I always had that curiosity about the two streams. Then, I decided that I am going to study masters in dance. I read about Dance Science and it fascinated me. I believe that my dance guided me there.

What is “creativity through movement” dance workshop? 

I see these workshops as a way for everybody to have accessibility to the benefits of movement. We as dancers connect with movement in a different way. It’s an attempt of connecting as a dancer and trying to make that connect for everyone. So, when I design these workshops, I keep in mind that I want dancers/non-dancers to come together and create something that’s beautiful. I think, a lot of us want to connect with dance, but we don’t have the privilege of time, money, accessibility etc. I consider myself privileged to have that art in my life. I have had the chance to study it and had the exposure to many great artists, choreographers and researchers for that matter. I want to bring my study to people out in the world.

What is ‘creativity through movement’ concept?

I believe that sometimes we find our movement or art to be therapeutic. Like, when you paint the Mandalas you feel therapeutic. It’s the same concept. But, I try to be mindful of the process. I don’t push anybody to do a particular movement that they injure themselves. A lot of that when gets broken apart, creativity starts flowing. You have your own freedom. Somebody leads the movement and somebody follows him/her. How one can express it with his/her body form is something I try to do in my workshops. A lot of it is experiential for me. We all have a creative spirit within us. Our jobs don’t require it but our lives do. To move is an inherent quality of a human being. Kids move all the time. That’s how they learn and grow. They are constantly connecting with their environment. They hit themselves to a door and they realize it through their body. We are slowly loosing it with sedentary lifestyle.

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