(This is a post by our faculty Arathi P)
“Dance is not just about name and fame but about ātma tṛiptī. It’s not just the spectator’s
enjoyment, but also about your own. Dance is also about an inward journey, which should be
the ultimate aim.”
– Dr. Padma Subramanyam
Dance is a divine art and also a form of yoga. Especially children have an intuitive sense of rhythm. You would have noticed children dance to the rhythm of a song, even before they know to walk or talk properly. William Stafford, the famous poet, has rightly said “Kids: they dance before they learn there is anything that isn’t music.” Kids develop the sense of movement even before they begin to express themselves through words. This movement when structured and performed with an intent and awareness becomes dance.
Recently I came across a friend of mine who said her daughter , who was undoubtedly a graceful dancer, had stopped dancing as she was too busy with her studies. I have seen many others stop dancing due to similar reasons. I think it’s important to bring out to people what they are missing by not dancing.The effects of dance are very well known and has been emphasised by many people. But its effect on young children is so much more than what can be seen by the eyes. This article is a gist of my MFA project work under Dr. Padma Subramanyam.
Dance is a powerful ally that helps a growing child to develop many attributes. Looking at the physical attributes, dance is the fun way to get good exercise. It helps build muscle and flexibility, and improves blood circulation. It has a great impact on coordination and motor skills. Dancing regularly lowers risk of obesity and helps tackle many health issues. It keeps the body as well as the brain active and energetic. It further improves balance and spatial awareness.
Do you know that the relation between dance, learning and brain development has been scientifically proven? Movement and learning are connected and brain research tells us about the relationship between body and mind. There has been a lot of anatomical, imaging, cognitive and functional studies which suggest that there definitely needs to be more movement in the learning process, particularly among children. Could there be a better structured movement, other than dance steps!!
Let me quote some of my personal experiences to further emphasize on the advantages. As a kid I was very energetic and less susceptible to common cold and similar infections. Dancing regularly has always helped me to keep myself fit and healthy. Learning dance lessons definitely boosted my memory and helped me improve my focus. It further increased my concentration levels and memory power which helped me in my studies too. Dance has given me a chance to be creative. It has always helped me release my emotions and given me a positive energy.
Even recently, after my second delivery, I had an acute problem of vertigo. I was on medication and was told to do certain exercises regularly. And when the set of exercises were given to me, lo and behold! They were nothing but Shiro bheda ( head movements), Drishti bheda (eye movements) and Greeva bheda (neck movements) in Bharatanatyam in a different sequence. With the vertigo problem lingering about, I was advised to think twice before joining Master in Fine Arts for Bharatanatyam, as a lot of movement could aggravate the problem. But believe it or not, I joined the course and there has not been one episode of vertigo problem after that!!
The physical attributes are known to many, but did we know that there are intellectual, emotional and spiritual aspects too that dance helps to develop in children? I shall bring about these aspects of dance in my next article.
(Arathi P is currently our faculty for Online Bharatanatyam training our students in USA. She started her training in pandanallur bani under Mrs. Manjusha Deshmukh from Maharashtra. Currently in Chennai she completed MFA Bharatanatyam from Sastra University under the guidance of Dr.Padma Subramanyam.)