India has always been looked upon with awe by the western lands due to its rich and varied culture. The classical dances of India are the best blend of the body, music and meditation. Yoga, an integral part of the Indian culture is another thing that fascinated the orientalists other than dance. The session ‘Illuminating Indian Classical Dances through Yoga” by Shovana Narayan, Anita Dua and Shalini Rao focuses on yoga and how the Indian Classical Dances are yoga in different forms.
Training in classical dances is infact a training of meditation and yoga. A good dansue is a good yogi. For a dancer, her dance is the ultimate point of meditation. Anita Dua talks about dance as a therapy. Dance for mental wellbeing is not a new millennial concept. It has been there throughout our history. Bharat Muni’s Natya Shastra, the basis for Indian dramatics is often termed as the fifth Veda. Why would a text which focuses on the technical aspects of dance and drama be hailed as a Veda, the source of knowledge for the mind? The reason is dance has always been considered pure and holy, and the knowledge about it is as important as the knowledge about once dharma and karma. The knowledge of dance was considered divine knowledge.
Talking about dance in the mythological context, Shiva, the destroyer according to the Hindu cosmology of the trinity is the God of dance. So, in the ancient times and not less in the present times also, dance was considered to the gods. It can be seen that most of the classical dance forms of India developed around temples and service to the gods. The devadasis in the Dravidian lands were the best Bharathanatiyam dancers in history.
Dance, being a form of prayer, is a form of mudras and music united in divinity. The session highlighted the anecdote of a dancer, whose anklet broke and pierced into her feet leaving her bleeding. She never realised she was bleeding and continued dancing. The form of trance she was in, isolated her from the mortal world and took her to the heavenly premises for a
few hours. She never knew what happened to her because her senses had gone numb due to the divine mental presence she was in. The session also talked about the benefits of yoga and the oriental understanding of it. It talked about yoga being a medicine to the soul and how the various asanas concentrate various spots of power and energy in our body.
Most of the classical dance forms of India features the stories and tales from the mythology, gods being the main characters. The dancer who stages the role of a God, often loses into a trance and is mostly believed to have been possessed by the deity. A dansue can be rightfully called a yogi. A yogi who blends the traditional yoga and meditation with worship and grace.