“A Journey to Bharat through Natya” by Ananth Raghunandan
Recently, I started my diploma in Bharatanatyam. I have been learning Bharatanatyam for over ten years and completed my arangetram (the first solo performance by a Bharatanatyam student after years of training) in 2020. I enjoy Bharatanatyam and want to continue learning and performing in the future.
Now, I am learning Bharatanatyam using a Theater Arts for Holistic Development (TAHD) approach. TAHD has five tools: 1) movement and dance, 2) music and rhythm, 3) storytelling, 4) drama, and 5) arts and crafts. TAHD gives more opportunities for movement. For example, I have also experienced movement through drama.
Movement includes any kind of movement or dance. It includes structured and
Unstructured movement. Walk, cooking, chores, dance, yoga, play, swimming, karate, sports etc.
The following are some benefits of dance for me:
– Relieves stress: I start my day with a daily walk. I do dance and theater activities throughout the day
– Creates enjoyment: Dance is enjoyable and I look forward to my dance lessons and practice.
– Builds strength: For example, when I practice a varnam for 20 – 30 minutes, I develop stamina.
– Improves sleep: Now that I have started dancing more because I started my diploma in Bharatanatyam, I am also sleeping better.
– Improves attention: My attention also improves when I do dance and theater throughout the day
Whole Body Movement and Communication through Indian Natya
According to TAHD, the purpose of movement is to
a) Understand one’s body at rest and in motion (body awareness)
In a classical dance form like Bharatanatyam, we develop body awareness in a systematic and structured way. The playlist below shows some examples of movements of different parts of the body such as feet (Pada Bedas), eyes (Drishti Bedas) etc.
b) Expression of feelings
In Bharatanatyam, we use movements to communicate feelings. For example, I have used movement of facial muscles to express joy, anger, disgust, fear etc. In addition to facial expressions, body posture and movements also communicate feelings. Here is a playlist of my recent performances
c) Enhance Non- verbal communication
We use body movements, hand gestures and facial expressions in dance. This helps me practice nonverbal communication
d) To communicate and express oneself in various spaces
As compared to individual dance, it is more challenging to move in space in drama because we have to coordinate our movements and body positions with other characters. See a playlist of my theater performances below
Stillness / pause is also a part of movement as it creates the right impact. Stillness also helps convey an experience sometimes.
I want to encourage neurodivergent learners to explore dance and Indian theater. There are many forms of dance in India but a structured classical form like Bharatanatyam works better for me.
Celebrating my Birthday: The TAHD Way
On my last birthday in 2022, I narrated the story of The White Peacock on SpecialSaathi. That experience led to the development of my story of the month project and the Ananth’s Adventures Youtube channel.
I will be doing a session for SpecialSaathi on my birthday on December 2, 2023. Hope you will join the session on whole body movement and communication with Indian natya!
Ananth Raghunandan is a student ambassador for (Ramana Sunritya Aalaya) RASA and Theater Arts for Holistic Development (TAHD). Ananth Raghunandan is doing a diploma in Bharatanatyam.