Humans are meant to move. To be more specific, existence of life means body movement. Every living being, seen or unseen is in movement. As a human, our body contributes to our life through movements of eyes, hands, legs, etc. as well as our heart. When the heart stops beating, there is death!
Long ago, when there was no language, humans used to communicate and interact with each other through body movement or gestures. Precisely, body movement is known as ‘body language’.
Since the time of Hominini tribe (humans, Australopithecines and biped genera between nine millions years ago) to modern Homo sapiens (humans), body movements, still remains an effective tool of communication and interaction.
As we know, there are two major forms of communication: verbal and non verbal. Verbal refers to words and non verbal refers to all communication that occurs by means of body movements.
A modern research on the role of body language reveals, that during communication: (1) only 7% of the information human transmits to others is in language we speak; (2) 38% in people’s speak-quality of voice, accent, voice projection, emphasis, pace, volume, pitch etc; and (3) 55% through body language- posture, position, eye control, facial expressions, head and movement, gestures, touch etc.
Body language is instinctively interacted by us all to a limited degree, but the subject is potentially immensely complex, and perhaps infinity so, given that the human body is said to be capable of producing 7,00,000 different movements, says another research.
Among these possible movements, few are categorized as ‘artistic body movement’, popularly known as Dance- a performing art form consisting of purposefully selected human body movement.
This particular art form was attached to human journey, since 7000 BC, as we have seen archaeological evidence of early dance includes 9,000 year-old-painting in at the Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka in India and Egyptian tomb painting depicting dancing figures, dated 3300 BC. As dance was first derivate from early India, so I will discuss through Indian classical dance.
According to Hindu Mythology, dance is believed to be creation of Brahma. It is said that Brahma inspired the sage Bharat Muni to write the Natyashastra- a Sanskrit treatise on performing arts. Its first complete compilation was written 200 BC and 200 AD. The text cover topics such as body movement, postures & emotions, stage design, makeup, musical scales, merging music with art performance and so on. The Natyashastra, therefore, acts as one of the foundation stone of all forms of Indian classical dances.
As we know, Dance is a popular motif in Hindu Mythology as well, as seen through Shiva’s (Nataraja- Lord of dance) Tandava (cosmic dance), Kali’s dance of creation and destruction, Krishna’s dance with Gopikas and Raas-Leela.
Over the course of time, dance in India went through various phases. In early period, dance was traditionally performed in the temples as reverence and worship to the deities. Besides this, dance was and still plays a role as- means of social communication & bonding, folk celebrations, in ceremonies & rituals, a method of healing, entertainment and a method of expressions.
According to its role there are many types of dance: Bharatnatyam, Odissi, Gauriya Nritya, Sattriya, Manipuri, Kuchipudi, Kathakali, Kathak, Folks, and Contemporary etc. Those types of dances are performed differently with various content. In dance, basically stories are told consisting of collective coordination of emotions, expressions and feelings are presented by artistic body movements like Mudras (hand gestures), as we know. In another sense, speaking in dance via gestures, rather than orally, in order to visually convey outer events or things, as well as inner feelings also exists.
There are two classifications of specific traditional Mudras: Samyukta and Asamyukta- are used in Indian classical dance. Though other body parts also involve in dance, therefore, hand-finger gestures and eyes for expression are considered the prominent parts of the dancer’s vocabulary.
The Abhinaya darpan (a descriptive primmer for dancers) mention that, dancer should be singing the song by the throat, express the meaning of the song through hand gestures, show the state of feelings in the song by eyes and express the rhythm with his/her feet. Basically, through body movements.
Coming to these photographs associated with this article, I have captured these from a solo Kathak dance performance by Pandit Asimbandhu Bhattacharya (a prominent Indian classical dancer) at Bangladesh-India ‘Festival of Dance’ in Bangladesh National Museum auditorium last year. In this performance he presented ‘The Evolution of Dance’ as a story through his various artistic body movements.
I must accept, though these 15 photographs do not capture the whole story, on linear basis, but is meant to capture the essence of Dance as an artistic expression of body movements and emotions. Every time these classical dance performances, has amazed me with a new beauty of body movements. What a piece of art, it is! We deal with different types of body movements every day, every moments but I consider classical dance as the ultimate beauty among all body movements. I cannot say or write enough, how these artistic ways have touched my heart every time. I’m sure these photographs will bring the same feel to the viewers. I intentionally capture these photographs in black & white to tribute both, Phototgraphy and Classical Dance. As we know, classical dance itself one of the oldest art form and photography begun with black & white medium. But both still survives with their own dignity as an art or daily necessity within us.
I want to finish by a nice quotation from Natya Shastra,
“Yato hastastato drishtihi
Yato drishtistato manaha
Yato manastato bhavaha
Yato bhavastato rasaha…”
Where the hand is, the eyes follow
Where the eyes go, the mind follows
Where the mind is, there is the feeling
Where there is feeling, there is mood (appreciation of art or aesthetic bliss)…”
About the Writer and Photographer
Shuvroneel Sagar is a poet, photographer and traveller from Bangladesh. By profession he is a journalist, has worked for few leading media houses in BD. Currently he is doing his second graduation in Photography at Osmania University in India.