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For most of the last century intelligence has been regarded as a singular entity, defined by IQ and measurable by pencil and paper tests. This was challenged by Dr. Howard Gardner, from Harvard University, in 1983, who made an attempt to pluralize the concept of intelligence. Gardner proposed that there are many different kinds of intelligence and that all of us possess them in varying degrees. He initially listed seven – visual/spatial, verbal/linguistic, logical/mathematical, bodily/kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intra-personal and later on added the eighth one – natural, after peer review. For the first time, what was traditionally thought as a talent or ability was considered intelligence. This led to a kind of revolution in learning psychology, especially the field of education and teaching. Over the subsequent three decades many studies have conclusively proved that learning is enhanced when done by engaging creativity, emotion, sensory rich environment as opposed to rote, repetition, memorization and learning in an environment of conformity, fear and competitiveness.
So we can easily say that there are ‘different ways to be smart’. In my experience as a special educator and a classical dance Guru for more than a decade, here are some ways in which dance involves and encourages these intelligences.
We shall take up one of the most perceptibly directly related intelligence today followed by others in the coming weeks.
Bodily / Kinesthetic Intelligence: Body Smart.
The most obviously associated with dance activities, this intelligence involves physical co-ordination and dexterity using fine and gross motor skills to learn and express through physical activities. Stored muscle memory is one of the best ways to remember, so learning dance or something through the medium of dance stays with us for a very long time. The flow of body movements helps learn through performing physical activity rather than lectures or watching demonstrations. Comprising of about five percent of the population, such learners are often termed as “Do-ers”. They strengthen memory by the recollection of movement, weight, resistance or postures of the body parts vis-a-vi each other. This perception of the muscular sense enhances the dancer’s posture, her ability to recollect and learn and produce complicated choreographies without excessively straining the mind as the flow of movements is fluid and natural. It not only helps dancers, but drama and theatre students too who can then relate these movements with continuity of their sometimes taxing and long drawn dialogues as well as being able to emote with them with equal ease. No wonder most of the personality building workshops always include dance or theatre as a part of their curriculum.
Those who take up dancing as a hobby or profession, automatically have an advantage over the others in academics as well, as they not only have rote memory but also kinaesthetic energies to help them learn more effectively. So, even if you are not much interested in dancing, just give it a shot! As Dr Seuss would say, “You don’t like it, so you say; try it, try it and you may!”
Keep dancing guys! And we shall tell you a lot more skills that you might develop along with it! Watch this space, as in the coming weeks we will elaborate on ‘other ways of being smart’ and how they help us lead successful lives.

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