“Rabindranath Tagore’s creativity in dance” | Sunday Observer

“Rabindranath Tagore’s creativity in dance”

10 May, 2021

Rabindranath Tagore’s contribution to dance is entirely different from the traditional dance forms and folk-dance forms of India. The dance form was also entirely different from the dance forms of his time. He introduced his own creative dance forms to the dance world as Tagore felt that a dance form should be a living art, must be simple and must not be affected by the rhythm, but it must have a natural flow.

Tagore’s contribution to dance

The sense of rhythm reflected in Tagore’s dance is very simple, graceful and gentle. According to Tagore, man’s first creation of rhythm was experienced in his body itself, so the dance performed by him was only to express the grace of his body movements without any other greater purpose and only for the joy of rhythm.

Tagore’s dance could be analysed in two different ways. Some regarded Tagore’s dance as a style. Some others considered it Tagore’s dance concept. One must have a style of a dance which means it must have a structure, formation, and firm type of execution.

The concept of dance must be influenced by various aspects. Hence Tagore’s creative dance form can be considered as a concept of dance form and cannot be considered a style of dance form. But many art critics always considered Tagore’s creative dance as a style of dance form. Tagore himself was not only a poet, philosopher, painter, choreographer of dance and drama but also a dance teacher.

His imaginative creativity could be found in all of his art works including dance, drama, music, and poetry. One must understand that during his period, dance was not much recognised in the society. Many artists were dominating the Bengali theatre and art scene in Bengal. Tagore recognised that art was a vehicle for education.

According to the available data, Tagore established ‘Shantiniketan’ at the end of 1901. At that time large number of students joined Shanthiniketan which belonged to the middle-class families. During the time nobody was interested in learning dance as a part of general education but Tagore introduced the fine arts such as dance, drama, music, and painting as a part of education from the inception of Shanthiniketan.

Providing a dance faculty

But at the initial stage it was not possible for him to impart or provide a proper dance faculty. In the year 1878, he went abroad, and got an opportunity to witness the Western ballet. That influenced his mind and introduced certain techniques based on this basis to his creative dance form. He encouraged the students to study and continue the dance for songs in the plays. First, he used dance in the play ‘Manamoiyee’ in 1880. He himself played the role as a dance teacher and choreographer. He himself composed a series of dances based on Western ballets.

He choreographed a dance for ‘Aay Aay Sahachari’, again in 1899, he produced another play ‘Punarbasantha’ in which he used the same song for the dance. He composed some songs and danced for the songs himself.

His beautiful methodology of dance influenced the young minds. Yet there was no proper faculty to impart dance at his institution. In 1919 Guru Buddhimanta Singh was invited to teach Manipuri dance in Santhiniketan. In 1923 in a play named Vasantha, Tagore and so many others participated. Mainly they participated and danced to rhythmic movements. In 1924 a group of students from Sourasta danced at Santhiniketan which impressed Tagore.

Different gurus came to Shantiniketan to study the special dance form. Some of the ballets produced by Santhiniketan such as ‘Chandalika’, and ‘Chitranga’, were the best examples for the different combined styles of Indian dance forms. Thus was born Tagore’s imaginative creativity.