Friday, January 7, 2011

The Surprising Overlap of Teaching Methods in Chinese and Indian aesthetics

I have been learning about chi, hana, rasa, and praxis (the Chinese, Japanese, Indian, and Greek theories of aesthetics, respectively) in a class taught by Richard Schechner, and am continuously surprised by the level of overlap within these theories in practice.

Yes, yes, many scholars are probably smacking their foreheads right now, "Do we have another one who thinks all these distinctly different theories are the same and believes in universality?"

The answer is no.

So before you start smashing your forehead into the screen, while I acknowledge major and distinct differences in each of these theories, I tend to concentrate on where they overlap. Ignoring the similarities is just as bad of a trait as ignoring their differences.

The training methods of the Beijing Opera and Indian classical dancers seem much the same. Imitate (including the dance - acting) and eventually you will understand and "get it". They seem to have the same pride for the guru-shisya tradition as well. There is an inordinate amount of attention paid to the eye movement training. And, oddly enough, they also isolate the different parts of the body to create "adavus" that seem to be labeled "jingju" in Beijing Opera. None are really written down but passed along orally.

Perhaps this seems superficial, but I do think there is more to this than meets the eye.

1 comment:

  1. Hello, dear friend of Indian Art/Dance!

    Wonderful this posting and the idea of your blog. So great to know about all the lovers of Indian art sharing their passion for Indian music/dance on the web...

    I am big fan of Indian music culture... have since 03/2006 an own radio show for Indian Classics ( ).

    I had a show about "Natya - relevance of ragas for Indian dance & theatre", too - .

    Keep on going your blogging... and deepen the insights of your topics... its very valuable/teachable for the global community of music/art lovers...

    Warm regards from Europe/North Germany, Hamburg - TC/ElJay R.
    P.S.: Please take notice of last/coming radio broadcasting you can find at Facebook. Tks.