Saturday, 27 April 2019

Prism - Inventing of a Notation System for Mudra: The language of Dance and Theatre in Kerala-Part 1 - G. Venu


Dance Notation
Dance Notation is the medium by which the body movements are scientifically analysed and are delineated accordingly through the appropriate use of symbols. There is documentary evidence to show that from the 15th century itself dance was notated in the West. Recently I happened to read that even many centuries prior to this, the dance steps of Buddhist rituals in Tibet were documented using signs. The most popular notation systems available for Western dance is 'Labanotation' and 'Banesh System'. I did try to learn 'Labanotation'. In the Western style of dance, importance is given to the movement of the parts of the body and choreography. But in Indian dances, equal importance is given to all the constituent parts and subparts from the head to the foot. The different parts of the body have different movements. The notation system of the West and their symbols is not sufficient to document the Indian dance forms. Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan who had studied 'Labanotation' much earlier has also made similar observations. I have devised a dance notation system to record Kathakali mudras in 1965. This article is about delineating and publishing 1752 mudras of Kathakali, Mohiniyattam and Kutiyattam over the years which has become perhaps the world's largest collection of hand gestures.

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