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Drishti: Choreographing Gaze

This post is inspired by what I find to be one of the MOST INTERESTING features of Indian Classical Dances – Drishti: choreographing gaze there is so much to be studied, researched and integrated about it. 

Because, the gaze is part of the dance, these are not breaking news. 

Antique Indian scripts about art describe profusely the gaze, how to train it and use it joyfully.    

This art certainly deals with further matters, not just the gaze, but the face expression, eyebrows movement, different ways of smiling, however I found it fascinating that there is a specific and formal chapter on the gaze.

In Natya Shastra, the treatise on the performing arts, the first Shloka (verse) dedicated to the classical dancers dictates:

“Yato hasta stato drishti”…”Where the hand gestures are, the eyes follow”

“Yato drishti stato manaha”…”Where the eyes go, the mind follows”

“Yato manaha stato bhava”…”Where the mind is, there is the feeling evolves”

“Yato bhava stato rasa”…”Where the feeling evolves, the Rasa flows”. 

Drishti: choreographing gaze

I’m suggesting several easy exercises that will help enhance your gaze while dancing.

In case you haven’t trained your gaze before, these exercises might make you feel a bit dizzy, so don’t forget to take breaks whenever you need, or apply a light massage on your eyelids to hydrate the eyes.  

The Odissi “Path finder” Vol I claims:

“The eye movement is really important, since no expression or emotion can emerge fully  if not supported by the gaze. In fact, the audience’s engagement and empathy rely completely on an efficient gaze performance.”   

According to the Abhinaya Darpana and Nandikeswar, the main eye movements are:

  • Sama Drishti. Eyes forward.
  • Alokinta Drishti. Circular movement.
  • Sachi Drishti. Look to one side.
  • Palomita Drishti. From side to side.
  • Milita Drishti. Introspective gaze.
  • Ullokita Drishti. Look upward.
  • Anubruta Drishti. Up and down.
  • Abalokita Drishti. Looking down, eyes almost closed.

You can find a video tutorial here, so you can practice the different types of gaze along with me, and also find some tips to improve the practice. 

Drishti: choreographing gaze

I hope you find this blog about Drishti: The Gaze Within Dance, helpful and motivating.

Dance with me now!


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