Embodied mirror: Guru and mirror in Indian performance training

Madhavan, Arya (2013) Embodied mirror: Guru and mirror in Indian performance training. In: Fifth International Conference on Consciousness, Theatre, Literature and the arts, June 15 - 17 2013, University of Lincoln.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive


Mirrored walls are common feature in the dance studios at sports centres, theatres or within a university setting and the dancers dance in front of mirrors quite regularly. They look at the mirror and constantly correct their physical postures. In every sense, mirror is now an important pedagogical tool in the Western dance training. Such level of dependency on mirror and its impact on the stage performance of dancers has been studied by several practitioners and they agree that the dependency on mirror during the training stages adversely affect the dancer’s quality of performance. From a teaching perspective, I find it hard to teach students who are over reliant on constantly reflecting upon their reflections (Ehrenberg, 2010, p.172). Why is it so?

I had been a student of various Indian dance forms for the last 30 years. Mirror had never been a pedagogical tool in any of the Indian performance training sessions until today. A student’s learning is entirely dependent on the instructions, suggestions, and corrections provided by the Guru. Stories and fables about the relationship between Guru and disciple (shishya) are readily available within the culture, right from Upanishads to the actor-training practices. From a performance perspective, Bharata’s Natyasastra prescribes various qualities for a Guru. What this paper attempts to undertake is an analysis of the pedagogical practice of traditional performance training from the Indian context, to reassess the place of Guru, by reflecting upon my own training as well as by drawing upon the teaching and learning practice found in Upanishads and Natyasastra.

Keywords:Kudiyattam, Indian Pedagogical Practice, Use of mirror in dance, Indian dance training
Subjects:T Eastern, Asiatic, African, American and Australasian Languages, Literature and related subjects > T300 South Asian studies
W Creative Arts and Design > W410 Acting
W Creative Arts and Design > W440 Theatre studies
W Creative Arts and Design > W520 Body Awareness
X Education > X390 Academic studies in Education not elsewhere classified
W Creative Arts and Design > W500 Dance
W Creative Arts and Design > W400 Drama
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts > School of Fine & Performing Arts (Performing Arts)
ID Code:10584
Deposited On:25 Jun 2013 08:31

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