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Speaking The Language Of Dance: An Interview

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Archana Gokhale started dancing when she was 8-years-old. With 20 years of experience in four different dancing styles and 10 years of teaching experience, she shares with us her journey and the role that communication has played in all aspects of her dance education. 

The path of her dance career was a gradual process. She started learning the Indian classical dance form Bharatnatyam and simply found out that she was good at it. With consistency, her love for movement grew further and encouraged her to explore other styles like ballet, Jazz and contemporary dance. “Bharatnatyam in itself gave me the tools to conquer it all”, she says. With freedom to emote, strength in the footwork and the ability to understand the group as well as individual presentation, she found herself embarking on a psycho-social and neuro-motor development.  

Dance and expression

What Archana finds critical to understand within the link between dance and expression is that it goes beyond the surface. Commercial pieces entail a tangible expression conveyed to the audience. For example, Jazz is a dance style that focuses on presentation, lines and stage presence. Ballet, on the other hand, has a rather stricter conduct from head to toe signifying that expression has a limited scope within various frameworks provided by the dance style. 

What do you see common in fellow dancers?

According to Archana, an obvious common aspect amongst all dancers is the love for movement but dance speaks a language of its own and this language is what combines all dancers. The language of hard work along with constant support, appreciation and feedback is what gets the dancers going. If one allows impure intentions to pierce through this process then they allow themselves to steer away from the purpose of their movement. 

What do you notice in your students?

As soon as a new student enters the studio, they immediately start thinking of things they cannot do. “When I teach dance, I see my students overcome their insecurities, they somehow are gentler and firmer at the same time, with their bodies”, says Archana. She elaborates on how, through dance, there is an impact-worthy change in approach towards things that are difficult physically and mentally. This is how students learn how to speak the language of dance, by overcoming their insecurities and making it a part of their daily life. 

How do you relate dance and communication?

“Dance is communication”, is what our interviewee exclaimed. Archana being an introvert has found various ways to channel her energy into her movement. It can be with another person, with herself, with the music, with the floor, with an audience or simply with silence. In an artist’s occupation, a lot goes into performance therefore as a fuel to this one must learn how to communicate with their bodies; including muscles that need breath and injuries that need healing. It is hard for her to explain to a non-dancer that the inward expression is twofold of the outward expression when it comes to dancing. 

Over the years Archana tells us about how her journey has transformed and how this journey transforms her. She gains perspective of body awareness and believes that every phase of her dance journey adds up together to an individual who knows what they want. Dance brings a certain amount of discipline in her life that enables her to believe that she has a truth that nobody can take from her. In simple language she explains, “Engaging my core, putting my shoulders in the socket and maintaining eye contact makes body language a part of my muscle memory. Not only does it provide to me a sense of physical strength but also the mental strength to undergo threatening situations.” 

Archana like many other dancers is a true example of how dance provides a different language game and the tools learnt from this performing art can be employed in all paradigms of life.

This interview highlights how there are various ways to learn how to communicate. Archana like many other dancers is a true example of how dance provides a different language game and the tools learnt from this performing art can be employed in all paradigms of life. The mainstream notion of dance being limited to an outcome of communication is fragmented into dance being the “who”, “what”, “to whom” and “how”, all at the same time; in the “who says what, to whom and how” model of communication.

 

Cover: Archana Gokhale

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