Friday, October 08, 2010

Unfolding. One Day At A Time. Beneath Manifestations

Surely, I enjoyed the show.
There were times when I thought it was not real and camera tricks had been used. Did they have bones or were they all blood and flesh? Were they shadows upon whom gravity did not act? Didn’t it hurt? How much practice it must have taken them to perform those feats! How malleable the human body is! The steps and moves were unbelievable.

That was my experience of watching ‘Step Up’, a movie that was all about dance.

While I was awestruck by the performances and admired the actors for achieving what seemed impossible, I also thought for the first time of the contrast between eastern and western dance forms.

I haven’t learnt dance and haven’t studied all forms of eastern and western dance. But from what I have seen, I thought the following.

The objective of the eastern dance forms is to delight the audience by depicting a story and usually has a message, a moral, a value to take home.
The movements are usually simple and facial expressions play an important role. Every move has to have a meaning and a purpose. The style is natural and simple. All the nava rasas are illustrated as and when the performance requires. Since there is always a story, dance provides glimpses of the lives of people of a land in an era, their thoughts and their ways of life.
Dancing is an instrument, a means to convey a message, a story. It’s a tribute paid to a God, a deity, or lofty ideals.

In western dance, the emphasis seems to be completely on showing individual prowess – twisting, turning, bending the body, dancing at breakneck speeds, performing fancy feats, outdoing the most complex move known hitherto, believing that the more complicated, the better.
There is no meaning associated with a step, nor story nor moral and dancing is for the sake of dancing itself. Dancing is not an instrument but an objective in itself. It’s a tribute to the self.

This difference, as Tagore has pointed out in one of his essays where he compares the literature of the western and eastern worlds, is not just a difference between two dance forms.

You may add to my understanding...

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