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Long acknowledged as a social skill, required for success in any field of life, being people smart was for the first time regarded as intelligence by Gardener in his Theory of Multiple Intelligences. It basically involves understanding how to communicate, collaborate with and understand people. Interpersonal intelligence is primarily the ability to understand and interact effectively with others. As it involves effective verbal and nonverbal communication, the ability to note distinctions among others, sensitivity to the moods and temperaments of others, and the ability to entertain multiple perspectives. Individuals with high interpersonal intelligence are skilled at assessing the emotions, motivations, desires and intentions of people around them.

Dance being a performing art, implies that one has to interact with others all the time, be it with your disciple, guru, musicians, fellow dancers, audience, organisers, sponsors, make-up artists, camera men and many others. Even while creating a solo dance sequence, one has to draw upon one’s empathy skills to put themselves in the place of the audience and make educated guesses about the effect of the choreography on them. From teaching a student to overcoming any difficulty, complimenting a fellow dancer, listening to suggestions, preparing a dance drama with multiple dancers to knowing the interests of the audiences, all belong to this category.

As a bharatnatyam guru, imparting the knowledge of this classical dance form for over a decade to girls as young as six years of age and to adults over forty, interpersonal intelligence manifests itself in a multitude of ways day after day. Knowing how far I can push a child to better herself in her art form includes a deep understanding of her state of mind on a given day alongside keeping in mind her basic nature – whether she is outgoing, shy, ambitious, underconfident etc. Once I have these qualities of the child in consideration, I can successfully plan and customise the method that I shall adopt to teach her without hurting her confidence and at the same time allowing her to overcome her weaknesses.

As interpersonal intelligence works primarily through person to person relationship and communication, the kind of social skills that students develop through their interpersonal intelligence is remarkable, be it reading , social cues, practising empathy, controlling or expressing emotions as per the need of the situation or being a leader or a follower. It is this which ultimately leads to success in any chosen field!

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