The 100-Day Theater Arts for Holistic Development (TAHD) Lab for Parents: Days 1-7
Who do you think of when you hear the word abhinaya? The picture by Morpheus shows a popular actress, Sridevi. We think of talented actors and actresses who engage audiences with enthralling performances.
This blog post is not about such actors and actresses. It is not about performances. It is about abhinaya as a tool for expression for everyone. Abhinaya as a tool for expression for parents. Abhinaya as a tool for communication for neurodivergent children.
This week is an exciting one! We launched the TAHD Lab for parents on December 5, 2022. TAHD offers many insights into effective educational practice for all children. One of the most important insights from TAHD for parents of neurodivergent children is captured in the notion of abhinaya in Indian natya. Dr. Ambika Kameshwar chose abhinaya as the concept of the first week of the TAHD 100-Day Lab. I think it an excellent choice for our community!
Concept of the Week: Abhinaya
Parents often worry about speech and language development. By changing our mindset to abhinaya rather than speech, we recognize that humans communicate in many ways. Speech is only one of many ways to communicate. Further, parents worry about speech means that they often overlook the struggles in other areas. In particular, they miss the struggles in nonverbal communication and emotional expression. These foundations of communication are developed long before speech! Abhinaya in Indian natya is a systematic framework of expression using varied modes of expression. Thus, abhinaya is a useful way of thinking about learning and development of children.
December 08, 2022
Abhinaya at the Airport!
I am very happy today! As we were waiting at entrance, a man came from behind and said “I have an 8.45 flight. Can I go?”
Ananth looked at him said “Go ahead” Usually he does not process unexpected things being said to him in crowded places. But he is very alert today. Indian airports are a good test of TAHD! He had the right posture, a pleasant face rather than stressed, and made a perfect entry through security while I went through the ladies line! I am very glad his Bharatanatyam lessons are shifted to TAHD mode. Everything is working together very well now!
An airport scenario is a good example to think about the various components of abhinaya. Vacika(speech) did not have to be used extensively. Angika (tracking people, knowing when to stop and when to go, handling security check) is much more significant. Satvika (expression) important too.
I think that the regular practice of open your eyes and smile and many reminders to smile throughout the dance class is already having some effect. Ananth didn’t a have flat or stressed affect but a more alert and with it look today! Finally, aharya or props. A simple example – handing boarding card to security person, scanning boarding card at entry.
Watch Ananth’s presentation of The White Peacock presented at a SpecialSaathi webinar. We retaped this video as the video was blurry in the webinar.
Ananth’s presentation at the SpecialSaathi webinar on December 2, 2022 illustrates the four components of abhinaya:
- Angika abhinaya: Body movements (e.g., bharatanatyam mudra and hand movements) are used throughout the presentation.
- Vacika abhinaya: Story narration is the speech part of the abhinaya.
- Aharya abhinaya: Thanks to Manu Sekar’s mother (Manu is the Founder of HashHackCode) for stitching the attire for Ananth’s birthday. Originally, Ananth wanted a maroon kurta. Then, he decided to choose colors that would work with the peacock story!
- Satvik abhinaya: Facial expressions and hand gestures were used to communicate how the peacocks and humans felt throughout the presentation!
Read about the four modes of abhinaya in Indian natya on page 7 of the TAHD book:
Dr. Ambika Kameshwar. 2006 Theater Arts for Holistic Development. Ramana Sunritya Aaalaya Trust.
Thank you Shri Ujwal Jagadeesh for your guidance and support. Thanks to Ms. Usha Sankaran for coaching him. Thanks to Dr. Ambika Kameshwar and Dr. Vaishnavi Poorna for ensuring that Ananth has the right mix of TAHD experiences at every stage. Thank you Shilpi Mayank Awasthi for a memorable 25th birthday celebration for Ananth. Some of our family members attended and I have also sent the video to a few family members.
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