VERBAL / LINGUISTIC INTELLIGENCE: WORD SMART
As the title suggests, being verbally smart primarily means using words effectively. Students with this particular intelligence have highly developed auditory skills and mostly think in words. People who have strong verbal linguistic intelligence converse well, have complex visual imagery and are able to weave interesting stories full of vivid imagination by adding a lot of humour to their story telling.
For a successful dance performance, a student’s training involves reading, writing, listening and conversing (with their facial and bodily expressions) in one’s own or a foreign language, which basically means to listen to or comprehend instructions, imagery and other information to create dance movements.
Most of the classical Indian dances use Sanskrit as the primary medium of communication and instruction, whether it is in the form of poetry, shlokas, padams or the simple nomenclature of the basic mudras, which most students are unfamiliar with at the beginning.
We as Gurus, often use metaphors, analogies or day to day examples to make dancers remember the steps or movements and create the right mood as demanded by the emotion of the song.
When I ask my students to tell me about their likes, dislikes, difficulties etc., they have to draw upon this intelligence to understand and to be understood. If I need them to perform an abhinaya piece, for example, I give them a story complete with the meaning of the lyrics, the mood of the item, the mental state of the nayika… almost like the ingredients of a mouth watering dish which they can cook any which way they want! Then it is upto the dancer to prepare her “meal” in such a way that everyone appreciates it. Once they understand how to perform, each of them comes up with their own interpretation of the song by their distinct rendition of the bhava and body movements in synchronization with the lyrics and “rasa” of the song. Linguistic thinking is hence, actually enhanced while developing body thinking. These two intelligences go hand in hand with each other and it is this multitasking that makes dancers more evolved than their peers.
Giving verbal clues, understanding the lyrics, enacting it particularly in the ‘abhinaya’ part of the Bharatnatyam is a sure way of cultivating as well as activating linguistic intelligence. Therefore, to communicate in such a language combined with polished bodily intelligence in the form of dance helps students to know and enrich their abilities in other fields too. Such students can go beyond just rote memory and can visualise and have a deeper understanding of their subjects and can reproduce their learning with far more clarity and precision than an average individual.