We all have the capacity to move, the capacity for imagination. We often lose this connect with our bodies as we grow up. Children do this, tirelessly. We see them connected to the floor, sliding, falling, running, jumping with little to no effort. They do this repeatedly with poise, ease and grace.

 

Why do we lose this connect with our bodies? Why do we lose this ability to imagine and express ourselves? I have often wondered this in my years as a dancer. I am especially keen on exploring this idea of just retaining children’s ability to move. As dance teachers, we think of training and correcting children. To help them do the “right” thing. In reality, they don’t need training, they need guidance. While imparting a classical style, this is crucial. Classical forms have specific aesthetics, ideas of movement and body shapes. How do we teach them this, while maintaining the purity of movement in their bodies? How do we keep their imaginations alive while telling them what to imagine?

 

This idea of pedagogy is something that I have been working on for the last three years. My children performed a two weeks ago. I’m happy , proud, joyous. At the same time, I’m constantly trying to evaluate whether their training is balanced, well rounded. Will they grow up and be able to dance in the grocery store with no inhibition? Will they continue to see things around them as possibilities and not as finalities? Will their bodies be open, receptive, free?

 

In art, there is no right and wrong. There are only choices. Choices that we are at liberty to change. I think this idea helps children with retaining their creativity.This is something I practice with my children. I never say something is wrong. I don’t believe I ever use that word in class. There maybe ” another way, a possibility that doesn’t hurt your shoulders, a manner in which they will protect their knees, but no movement is ever wrong” , I also try to say that ” in bharatanatyam we make this choice” . Meaning that it isn’t the only choice available. If we are able to retain this ability to imagine when we grow up, our lives will be fuller, more vivid.

 

I am offering them the vocabulary of bharatanatyam, as a choice of movement. I however don’t want this to close their other opportunities of movement. They don’t need to start erect and hold their arms up in natyarambham to experience movement and to dance. They must continue to fall on the floor, roll, jump, slide, and keep the joy of exploring the possibilities of their bodies while learning a classical style. I want them to see palaces in thin air, believe an orange is a magic ball, talk to imaginary friends, have real fights with non -existent people and be able to look out the window and see everything that is not physically there.

 

I’m looking forward to the many years with my children.

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4 responses to “Children and imagination”

  1. Donkesavan says:

    As a teacher myself, i wish more teachers around the gkobe think this way. There is nothing more shattering than to be told off for being a square when people are in their circles and think it is only thr right way. God bless!

  2. Janki says:

    Awesome πŸ‘
    The key to creativity is to keep that child alive in ourselves even when we are all grown up. And to keep the child alive in us, one must learn to see others without any differences, without jealousy, without selfishness, and with love, humanity and compassion. When we can be able to have such in our heart, we can retain the child in us and still progress as an adult.

    Enjoyed reading your blog!

    Best Regards,
    Janki

  3. Priya says:

    Well Said πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ‘πŸ½
    I like your way of thinking. It’s true, if we get older we also lose our inner child.
    Thank you for this message.

  4. Malini Srinivasan says:

    Wow, loved reading this. I have had the opportunity to learn Bharatnatyam under multiple gurus over a course of a decade.. and not once was I exposed to such a freedom of exposure! I am very happy to know an upcoming generation of artists are being groomed in this openness. May be I’ll have the pleasure of training under you sometime πŸ™‚

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