Music is comprised of individual notes, and transitions between these notes can often seem either effortless or demanding. Naturally, many of us would prefer the smooth transition from one note to the next, but perhaps it is when we surrender to the uncertainty of what is to come next do we realize that we’re actually working towards something spectacular.
In the same vein, creativity in dance, as well as in science, occur in these moments of uncertainty. More specifically, I’ve come to realize that it takes place in moments of near stillness. In the current dance piece I’m learning, a thillana, the second thematic line is considerably less physically-demanding than the first - where my arms and legs are racing to match its speed of the complex rhythmic beats. On the other hand, while the second thematic line would still be considered fast, only my eyes are traveling across an imaginary horizontal plane of transversal magnetization during this part, and my almost stationary body is like a longitudinal magnetization - characterized by subtle fluctuations of my shuffling feet as I try to maintain my balance.
A similar thematic line where the dancer must be still and can only move their eyes also exists as the second phrase in another piece I learned earlier last year, which was a jatiswaram. The same choreographer composed both pieces, so this decision to incorporate moments of near stillness is deliberate - but why there? Is there an associated significance? It’s possible that yielding to this uncertainty is therapeutic, as it partially restores the energy you exerted from dancing the first thematic line, as well as having you devote attention to your surroundings and prepare for what is to come - much like a precessing proton of a water molecule in the neural tissue of patient undergoing a MRI scan, where the moments in between sequences both allow the proton to realign its orientation to its natural state and while still knowing that it will again have to change its position when the next sequence begins.
I hope to address these aspects of movement and more in the current physics-inspired dance piece that I’m composing. To follow along, my website is www.devikanair.me and on Twitter, my handle is @nairdevikav.
(Below is a picture of me in classical dance attire after performing the same jatiswaram early last year.)