Intrapersonal intelligence, listed by Howard Gardner as the last of the seven intelligences in his ‘Theory of Multiple Intelligences’, is the ability to understand oneself and one’s thoughts and feelings, and further using this knowledge to plan and set goals and direction to one’s life. Also known as being Self Smart, it involves introspective and self-reflective capabilities. Once we understand ourselves, we can predict our responses and emotions, know why we are unique, our strengths and weaknesses. Thus, this one is a deeply personal one, relating to ones emotions, thoughts, self-awareness, self-reflection etc. Enhancing or strengthening this intelligence is very important as it guides most of our choices in life in one way or other. In dance it is used from setting your own goals, deadlines or following a schedule to correcting your posture, rhythm, abhinaya, technique or balance.
Intra-personal intelligence involves an appreciation of the self in particular and also of the human condition at large. This kind of intelligence is highly evident in psychologists, spiritual leaders, philosophers and to a great extent in dancers too. Hours of arduous physical training, endless repetitions, the quest for learning and perfecting a sequence leads a dancer to a head space which is very intuitive of their own strengths and flaws.
This meta-cognitive intelligence is perhaps the least explored by the traditional class room style of learning or education and most needed in any artistic field be it dance or any other, where one is faced with making choices all the time…. Asking questions for self improvement like does it make sense? will it look nice? how can this sequence flow better? why don’t I like it? what is missing? and so on. By evaluating our own aesthetic preferences, we can explore the possibility of building on them, revisiting or revising them, or viewing them with a fresh perspective. This is perhaps the most important aid of an artist in the quest of creating a masterpiece, be it a piece of music, a sequence of choreography or a painting or a sculpture. An enhanced intrapersonal intelligence aids us to evaluate our efforts consciously against a set of core standards, and cultivate methods to elucidate our choices based on those standards or preferences. Self-smartness guides almost all our choices in life in some way or other.