“Science and art sometimes can touch one another, like two pieces of the jigsaw puzzle which is our human life, and that contact may be made across the borderline between the two respective domains.” – M. C. Escher
Shiv Nadar University (SNU) has produced many students who have walked the untrodden path. One such student, who has actually created her own path, is Bhargavi Gopalan. Bhargavi has two achievements that she is equally proud of: when she performed her solo debut in dance, and when she completed her Master’s thesis research. This kind of balance defines Bhargavi and what she does.
Being a shy child, her parents introduced her to Bharatanatyam to overcome her introverted nature. Dance soon came to be an integral part of her life. At SNU, her other love – for science – came to the fore. And SNU became the site where she learned to channelize the interconnectedness between these two passions. It was a connection that she had always felt, but not been able to articulate.
Along with her engineering studies, Bhargavi took a minor in dance. SNU’s unique OUR (Opportunity for Undergraduate Research) programme allowed her to explore the questions she was asking herself, to go out on a limb with her very unique ideas. While on the dance academics course, she discovered the lynchpin of her future: Dance Science.
Dance Science is the scientific study of dance and the dancing body. It explores the dancer’s body through aspects of physiology, biomechanics, psychology, somatic, and more. She says, “Engineering helped me see that our bodies are nature’s best-designed machine, and dance allowed me to explore the endless possibilities of using this machine. Dance Science brought together the quantitative side of engineering and the qualitative side of dance.” This work is a new academic paradigm for understanding ways of integrating safe dance practices for amateur and professional dancers.
Bhargavi is immensely grateful to her faculty at SNU for believing in her vision and giving her new perspectives, which strengthened her self-belief. She says, “I rediscovered my love for dance while studying engineering and found an area within dance that resonated with me the most. It would not have been possible without the support of my faculty, who constantly supported and continue to do so!” The diverse friends she made at SNU also exposed her to different art forms like martial arts, poetry, and theatre.
She elaborates, “Everyday, I go to work with new challenges. The dance fraternity lacks awareness of the importance of Dance Science, being a new subject. The challenge is to break the barrier and to stay motivated in order to keep working with persistence. I am grateful to have many great educators in my life who have always mentored and guided me to approach my passion and not be afraid to take risks.”
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