Monday, 20 November 2017

Emotions as a way of knowing

Going through the storm of emotions... I started thinking, how in one way or another, emotions and kind of thinking in my daily activities is designing my way of research inquiry process.  The late American movie critic Roger Ebert(1942-2013)used this simple statement "Your intellect may be confused but your emotions never lie to you". understanding that statement I believe our emotions are often present convincing feels only to ourselves, but for emotions or opinion to go public, language and reason come into play. I feel it is our gut feelings that determine our actions and moral behavior, followed by the reason we think of later in justifying the doing or not doing the right or wrong thing. But why do we need to justify what surely we felt was right? Because this is how society understands. Someone will demand an explanation and we will be obliged to give reasons and not just any reason, but the one that satisfies, since that is what explanations do.

when I deal with my students and people around in my community, higher status is often given to the rational( reasoning) over the irrational( emotions) however, I found emotions and reasoning are intertwined and working together in my decision-making.
In Indian classical dance we, show 8 dominant human emotions like anger, love, joy, pride, sorrow, disgust, wonder, fear, I always wondered are these emotions listed above universal or are they dependent on culture or some other factor?  The Bhagavad Gita(5th century BCE) Indian religious epic states that emotion has the advantage of being open to all, the weak and the lowly, the illiterate and the scholar. similarly, Darwin supported the naturalistic view that emotions are purely physiological and experienced across all cultures..The James-Lange theory asks us to consider that the bodily state causes the feeling. Antonio Damasio, the Portuguese neurobiologist has given a hypothesis which proposes that emotions play a critical role in the ability to make fast, rational decisions in complex and uncertain situations.
As I kept thinking deeper about emotions I could discover the connection between emotions and dance as a way of knowing... I realized as dancer, often I was trained to create a thought( Character/role narrating a story from epics) then start living into that thought and you become the thought..emotionally at that level of consciousness you are remembering every movement of your  choreography creating perfect balance between time-space-music and eventually reach the fourth dimension spiritual bliss or aesthetic bliss.
This inference follows the knowledge acquired by the self through the mediation of senses and the entire concept or action stimulates enjoyment in the spectator causing the sentiments to be felt by them...similarly I sense that my thoughts, emotions, and actions could be focused to create a balance  with my research investigation to stimulate the audience to feel similar sentiments.

Monday, 13 November 2017

What motivates Observation?

What motivates observation?  I am sure there are numerous reason why we observe some things and not others... this is something I noticed recently when I Judged a youth dance competition.  When I asked students what motivated them to participate in the dance competition,  most young dancers responded that they were motivated to learn dance by observing other eminent dancers, how they executed different techniques, their choreographies etc. and wanted to emulate such performances
  I sensed that was something worth thinking about, especially at this stage of my life whatever I do or see, all my actions are driving me towards my research inquiry...sounds strange..but true!!

I am sure there are numerous reasons why we observe some things and not others. Its like if someone points out a particular tree to us on our way to work, we begin observing it thereafter. We may have passed it every day until then, but we may begin to observe it only after it was pointed out to us. Who knows the multitude of reasons that people have for observing things? As teachers, we need to be alert and sensitive to what excites each child in the class and get him/her to use that as a trigger for observation.
we generally have a half/fully formed hypothesis/theory regarding why things happen the way they do before we feel it necessary to observe and actually find out if what we have thought is true. For instance, I may think that each time there is a thick blanket of cloud there is rain on the following day. I may have formed this theory/hypothesis even unconsciously over years of experience. Now I may want to observe and actually see if this is always true. 

As dance teachers when we want a particular dance move to be imbibed in students, observation might be the first of them all. So let's say I show them how to describe a beautiful garden using hand gestures, and they watch me and respond according to what I ask them. When they are observing this are they motivated by a theory or hypothesis or just motivated by the wonder of what is happening?? Subsequently, when they go on to study other aspects of dance like preparing for the performance, make-up costumes making their hair( as in Indian classical dance we have elaborate costumes with pieces of jewelry)  observation skills does become the most important learning skills. What are your thoughts?

Nevertheless, as of now creating/ preparing a professional artifact has Motivated my Observation!!

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Monday, 6 November 2017

All roads lead to Research!

When I read Adesola's blog on some interesting questions, I was allured to discover how my identity has developed over the years and how have I constructed myself.  I suddenly realized that I am actually thinking like a researcher..initially with a beginner's mindset then with a deeper approach asking questions to myself and gradually exploring the various possibilities or outcomes.
When I look back on my professional journey, the most important thing I discovered was my passion for dance. I wonder where the passion emerged from? I wonder how this passion can compel me to reach any heights to seek knowledge. Despite not being from an artist family, it fascinates me how one can develop taste for any art form.
I consider myself fortunate to have supportive parents and husband to make my own choices in life and to have learned from great Gurus. For me, Bharatanatyam continues to offer great opportunities to meet creative people and Gurus who have enriched and renewed my vocabulary.  I sincerely believe that is is not possible to master the nuances and dimensions of this art form in one lifetime, as there is so much to learn ..grow and evolve with the art. I also think my current life stems from 'karma' or my past life as believed in Hindu philosophy.

I must admit that whatever little knowledge I have today is because of the divine intervention and my Guru's grace. My Gurus (teachers) in India lead a simple life with great thinking ability to be intuitive in their teachings and they deeply connect with inner being of each and every student. This has greatly influenced me to able to recognize my inner and outer self and to find my identity in this multi-cultural environment as these values teach more than dance.
I feel with all these rich knowledge about 'Guru-shishya parampara' ( a Teacher-Student relationship)  my aim is to train students towards holistic development by encouraging them to look around as they develop an awareness of the environment. This would also enable them to grow along with the knowledge of past as the basis for their understanding. 
Do share your thoughts.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Journey through gaining access..issues.. practices..ethics and gratitude

Gaining access to research process seemed a simple process.. however as I  began I  realized the range of issues like giving assurance of confidentiality, following ethical considerations, building trust etc.. was found to have fraught for it ignored the nature of the community with which I was going to engage and how that engagement will be undertaken. Gradually the sense of trust was created as my participants assumed my motives were benevolent and did resonate with recognition of the integrity of the researcher and the researched. At times it was challenging to interpret the whole conversation taken place in the interviews and it was daunting. At such a situation I kept assuring myself that I am doing this research to establish a base for my own study and improve my practice and this would cost me lots of time, patience and ultimately money. 
The qualitative research framework which I have chosen is based on assumptions on the subjective nature of young participant's knowledge. The procedure for generating new knowledge and relating to existing theory entails a methodology in which theory is grounded such as observation, interviews, questionnaire and written reports etc.
 Currently, I am at the level of interpreting research data, by narrowing down selective information as per my enquiry, making it to manageable chunks.  As I am into reading the process of critical thinking is leading me deeper into the further search of articles.forexample, if a key articile appears in a particular journal, and I find it relevant to my inquiry it is leading me further into other journals which stimulate debate and I sense that is developing my discussion.

Ann Greig says a good research can be likened to a well-planned expedition. The purpose of the journey is well defined and you know what mode of transport you must take. Your route is planned, you have a map and you have checked the feasibility of undertaking each part of the journey in the specified time.  Once you have started, you do not deviate from your chosen route, and if you unexpectedly have to take a diversion or you get lost, you immediately consult your map and get back on your pathway as soon as possible. This would help you in complete your journey successfully. as you have gained direct experiences and you do no share about what you have not seen or heard.
 Further, she says that a good study should have a sense of flow, and research approach should stem from the previous study and aims to expand the knowledge, and methods used should be justified and logical and the data should relate to the aims. You should be able to identify the sources of any conclusion and recommendation from the data as well as the title of the work whether it is an accurate reflection of the study itself.
Please share your thoughts!

Sunday, 22 October 2017

My discoveries on ongoing Research

I am wondering if I am progressing with my work or not?? I sense that having pre-understanding of my inquiry topic I find myself constantly referring back to the diverse and interesting literature of various kinds and being open to ideas that are coming from many different sources.
 Recently, attending a lecture on Visible learning at my daughter's school,  made me think would this concept enhance student and teacher's development?  and also how to inspire students of the future as a teacher?  Prof.John Hatte, argues that in the visible learning concept, we could see a shift from teacher centred to a student centred approach where the teacher just supports them as a mentor with their considerable amount of expertise. and the student is allowed to explore on their own choices, collaborate as a team, communicate to deal with problem-solving and ultimately to be creative. However, when I compared to my traditional way of learning this is what I reckoned.

Thinking deeply, about our traditional way of learning I could think of my teachers who had a positive and profound effect on me was often because of their attributes and their passion..they could see something in me that I didn't see in myself.  They often identified the right act and appreciated my ability to accept errors.  The most important attributes of expert teachers rely on how they used their 'Technique and Relationship' with students. Though my teachers were incredibly strict disciplined and organised and never compromised on standards one thing that  I always remember is their Passion for the subject and the genuine love towards students the relationship which they maintained with me, though it was not always emotional it was always decisional. They would teach us skills and tips to overcome our weaknesses.

So, I feel to inspire and motivate our students and to climb the professional ladder we could effectively balance our passion for the subject and love towards students, as well as implement elements of visible learning.

Loved these quotes.. 'The mind is not a vessel that needs filling but wood that needs igniting'
-Plutarch( Ad 46-AD 120)
'Education is not about learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think'- Abert Einstein.

what do you think? You can watch these youtube links to know more.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Insights from Liz Lerman's talk

Listening to Liz Lerman's talk gave me goosebumps !!
I was wondering how could someone's life experiences create such an impact and compel the audience to think deeper and explore various aspects of their own beahviour.
Her talk forced me to think where I am today in my professional field? what influenced me to be the person I am today? Why did I react in a way in some situation?  What was bothering me when I received feedback? How could I move ahead in my professional practice?
Liz spoke how to skillfully handle every situation and understand nuances of our professional practice as an Artist, Facilitator and an audience.
She identified that our experiences are culturally framed and shaped they change according to our cultural moral and ideological views,. When we give or receive feedback we often have this discomfort as it would involve a lot of efforts to plan prepare and present and then what happens when someone receives it how they perceive it? we keep mulling over dancers, we need to remember that it is not critics job to improve our choreography rather it is our responsibility to accept the ownership of learning.
 When dancers get together we never talk to our peers honestly we avoid talking about each other's work why? Is it because of our 'Ego? Accepting that creativity could happen in 1000 ways and keep all our personal judgement aside we can discuss neutral questions as what is working well? This capacity to filter is one of the greatest gifts for artists as facilitators.
 Critical responses are designed in fact to keep our defensive attitude down. The most important thing is that when we get stuck at a point we should ask questions to ourselves as in most of our lives suggestions ideas solutions can come from every direction without any thought or prior notice.
So....Remember to Ask Questions it could be thrilling!!

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Interesting Impromptu discussion

 I wish we could continue the impormptu discussion little longer as it was getting very interesting.

Started off with Becky who said how she was surprised to learn that her students preferred to participate in competitions over dance exams. As teachers, we always believe that dance exam is crucial to one's career as it provides a platform to achieve standards and obtain certification, however, what we fail to notice is that students enjoy instant gratification after their performance compared to hear the exam results to be announced at a much later date. I think as a teacher we must skillfully create a balance between exams and competition.  It's very natural how teachers consider student's achievements or trophies as the extension of their success as students become our progressive partners.
Later our discussion moved around areas of learning, Maitee expressed that when we browse through various literature, we definitely come across theories which relate to our experiences and it allows us to connect with what we already know and where we could possibly explore more in-depth.  I believe reviewing our own learning in order to identify its significance and transformation of work with other's work and practice is what dictates one's AOL. 
we continued to talk about 'Culture' and its significance for dancer's creativity..I truly feel that learning dance is nothing but learning the culture. Knowing culture reinforces better understanding of how and why techniques of dance movements are practiced in a specific way.  Being an Indian classical dancer, the first thing I teach my students is about its culture and roots. In fact, when I conducted group discussion with some parents they said they enrolled their children to learn classical dance class so that they could learn Indian culture.
We concluded as Adesola asked us to write our blogs regularly by narrating any practical experience from our professional practice and hope I have done mine. Thanks.