step with rhythm
Panta meets dance therapist
Tripura Kashyap, who says dance can works wonders, especially
for the differently abled
Dance therapy can be an uplifting experience
you know that dance
is an ideal way to keep fit? It is a complete body workout which
can burn more calories than walking, swimming or riding a
bicycle besides correcting the posture. So if you want to shake
your blues away and lose a few kilos then check into a dance
But do you know
that dance can be emotionally therapeutic? If you don’t then
meet India’s first dance therapist, Tripura Kashyap. She will
tell you that dance is not just for entertainment but can be a
physically uplifting experience as well.
dance from Kalakshetra College of Fine Arts in Chennai she was a
performing artiste in the Chandralekha Dance Company for several
years before going for an advanced course in dance therapy from
the Hancock Center for Movement Therapy in the US. Today the
lady is redefining the meaning of dance and turning it into a
Her book My
Body My Wisdom`85A Handbook of Creative Dance Therapy (Penguin)
describes this new dimension of dance in detail and is an
easy-to-use guide to the new therapy taking the reader through
the history, philosophy and practical aspects of dance.
"It is the
first time in India that a book has been written on the
subject," says Tripura. "The book has benefited a
whole lot of people as dance can be a spiritually uplifting
experience especially for those who wish to break out of
restrictions imposed by society on our bodies."
graduating in classical dance from the prestigious Kalakshetra
in Chennai, Tripura was part of several dance-dramas
choreographed by the late Rukmini Devi Arundale. Later, she
joined the Chandralekha Dance Company in Chennai. She has also
trained in Mayurbhanj Chhau (Martial art dance) from Orissa.
uses this non-verbal medium to help people find an emotional
expression through especially designed rhythmic movements.
"Dance brings out the subconscious in a person,"
explains the author who along with a friend has set up a dance
therapy group called Rainbow Inc that works in
collaboration with teachers, therapists and disabled children.
over a period of time worked with special educators, therapists,
teachers, social workers and mental health professionals using
creative dance therapy for healing. "It is very beneficial
for children with special needs. After every session, they are
happy and more confident. They acquire a positive body image and
feel good about who they are."
she says, works wonders for a range of disabilities and, like
yoga, it is effective in healing even where traditional medicine
does not work. She strongly feels that more research should go
into the therapeutic aspect of this art and hopes to get it
introduced as a subject in the Indian universities.
For almost two
decades Tripura has been designing special programmes for
educators, teachers and social workers demonstrating how dance
can be used to help disabled children. "These workshops
facilitate teachers to use therapeutic dance activities in their
educational curricula and treatment programmes. The effort is to
workshops for the disabled, Tripura focus on making the
participants aware of their bodies and develop a deeper
understanding of themselves. They are encouraged to think,
memorize, feel and express ideas through dance.`A0`A0
best moment came when she worked with a group of vision-impaired
Bharatanatyam dancers. She specially choreographed a piece for
them. "To my amazement they picked up the footwork
immediately and started to dance with body and mind in tandem.
It was as if they were in a trance, free of all fears. I have
yet to experience something like that."
dancer-author who has been working with the Henry Martin
Institute in the northeastern states of India says that
sometimes people are self-conscious and hesitate to dance in
public. But the differently-abled are more liberated in body and
mind and are faster learners. "The easier you can move your
body in rhythm, the quicker will the dance therapy work for you.
Basically, you have to be aware of your body and its expressive
and communicative abilities."
Besides being therapeutic,
Tripura says dance helps uplift emotions and is a meditative art
that helps one gain peace and composure. "In many forms of
meditation dance is used to bring about a peaceful mental state
and to usher in positive energy. Dancing makes you feel good, is
a worthwhile hobby and also easy on the pocket." So go
ahead, dance your blues away. — NF