As a dancer and actor, I have always been fascinated by the power of movement and expression. In my pursuit of deepening my understanding of these art forms, I had the opportunity to participate in the “To the Core, Introduction to Learning Ladder” workshop, conducted by the esteemed Bharatanatyam exponent Priyadarshini Govind. This transformative experience immersed me in the intricacies of abhinaya, the art of expression in natya, and provided me with invaluable insights that have undoubtedly shaped my artistic journey.
Recently, I had the privilege of attending the “To the Core, Introduction to LEARNING LADDER,” a four-day abhinaya workshop conducted by the esteemed Bharatanatyam exponent Priyadarshini Govind in Chennai.
With 25 participants, all dancers but with varying styles of dance practice and performance, most of whom were also dance teachers, the workshop catered to a diverse range of individuals. The comprehensive training in basic techniques provided during these days fundamentally improved our understanding and application of abhinaya, the art of expression in natya.
Exploring the connection between emotion and movement
One of the most significant takeaways from the workshop was Priyadarshini’s emphasis on the connection between emotion and movement. Her artful guidance through the intricacies of portraying a wide spectrum of emotions through thoughts and their corresponding movements was invaluable. Her in-depth explanations and practical demonstrations provided clear insights into how each movement of angas, upangas, and pratyangas (major and minor limbs) and their expressions should reflect the underlying intention of the situation or context.
Another key aspect of the workshop was the attention to nuances. Priyadarshini stressed the importance of subtle gestures, eye movements, head movements, hand gestures, and their individual expressions in conveying the intricate details of a narrative. Her guidance enabled us to delve deeper into the basic aspects of abhinaya, making our thoughts simpler and clearer, which later guided us into more compelling and authentic performances.
The workshop also focused on storytelling through abhinaya sessions with young children. Priyadarshini’s storytelling techniques were both interesting and insightful, and her demonstration of how to weave a captivating narrative through expressions that effectively engage the audience’s emotions and imagination was inspiring. Her pedagogy was not only educational but also encouraged us to bring stories to life on the stage.
Delving into the nuances of expression
The introduction to the ‘Learning Ladder’ provided us with certain new applicable tools derived from Priyadarshini’s experience. These tools, which should first be practiced as exercises and then gradually incorporated into the flow of abhinaya, help build a framework for training and honing the dancer’s imagination. The Learning Ladder’s feature of building a framework to train and hone the dancer’s imagination helped us learn how to effectively frame a visual sentence, think in dance, and optimize the impact of communication in abhinaya. Exploration of different ways of moving the angas, upangas, and pratyangas and systematic exercises with the given tools helped connect thought to emotion and emotion to body.
Further, Priyadarshini’s personalized feedback and one-to-one sessions were instrumental in our growth. Her keen eye for detail and her ability to identify areas for improvement provided a tailored learning experience.
Undoubtedly, the “To the Core, Introduction to Learning Ladder,” the in-person Master Class Abhinaya Workshop was a remarkable journey into the heart of expressive art. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to learn from such a masterful artist. For me, it was a transformative experience that will undoubtedly shape the future of my dance performances, and I would highly recommend this workshop to anyone seeking to enhance their abhinaya skills.