Exploring Movement and Rhythm at NYUAD

NYU Abu Dhabi's Common Ground hosts a dance workshop where students and staff alike learn Bharatanatyam and contact improvisation, exploring movement in various ways.

NYU Abu Dhabi's Common Ground has seen many an event, but none quite like the dance workshops that took place in late-November. Students and staff alike took to the floor during a series of workshops to learn not one but two types of dance: Bharatanatyam and contact improvisation, both of which explored movement in various ways.

In the Bharatanatyam workshop, a group of 10 participants learned the principles of this traditional South Indian dance. Beginning with the basics — rhythm, positions, and hand mudras — they quickly moved on to practicing different hand gestures, the basic units of dance, and combinations of these units of dance to create more complex compositions of choreographic and musical material.

I found the Bharatanatyam training to be extremely challenging yet rewarding. It forced me out of my comfort zone, pushing my body to hold positions it had never been in before, and in doing so, helping me to think about the ways in which I can create with my body. The biggest challenge for me was coordinating the simultaneous movements of my hands and feet, an exciting task that my body had never been exposed to before. In the end, after struggling to get into the correct positions and to remember the order of hand mudras, I was able to achieve some level of gracefulness and left the workshops extremely curious about this form of dance.