Tripura Kashyap was so enamoured by the beauty of dance that she went off to Kalakshetra at a young age to learn Bharatanatya.
Having a wheelchair bound brother and watching three blind musicians “move differently every time they heard music” triggered off her curiosity if dance could be used to help them.
“I always wanted to do something with people who were challenged in some way or the other -- could be mental, emotional or physical.” She adds that she wasn’t interested in classical dance after a while and “was looking for something different”, that’s how she “discovered” contemporary dance and also worked with Chandralekha.
“Contemporary is beautiful. I found freedom to express on issues such as the environment or anything else through movement,” explains Tripura.
It was, a “chance meeting” with the famous dance therapist, Grace Valentine, that led Tripura to evolve from a dancer to a therapist.
“Dance therapy is another form of psycho therapy. Everyone has problems, buried feelings and issues. I started CMTAI (Creative Movement Therapy Association Of India) in Delhi a few years ago and a year ago started it in Bengaluru too.”
“Dance therapy helps people in many stages. First step is to bring in movement, then they explore their emotions, third is the verbal processing. That is when psycho therapy comes in where you talk to them and help them overcome their problems. The last stage is integration where they take back their learning and integrate it in their lives and relationships.”
Today, Tripura stresses dance therapy can be used with children, people with autism, and can help anyone aged five and above.
It has really branched out over the years, she opines.
A dance performer and a therapist have different goals. “The former is precise, you are looking at beauty, stance, perfection, body co-ordination, and stage presence. In therapy there is no performance, but the process and the outcome are of importance.”
Her journey in dance therapy started in the 90’s and she in a way “pioneered it”.
She adds that Bengaluru has been open to her works and she found herself working various organisations and people that were challenged in various ways.
After winning many fellowships and travelling the world, Tripura started research on how Indian dance forms could be integrated into dance therapy and has authored some books too.
Tripura has been organising several conferences and workshops to popularise this method as they are “geared towards helping people. It can be used in therapy, hospitals and any social work.”
She goes on to talk about the challenges of being a dance therapist. “The good points are that it helps people break off from their timidity, let go and dance. Movement is such a primal part of our lives. Didn’t we all move even in our mother’s wombs?”
The worst part of being a dance therapist is that “there is not enough training here, especially when I started. It is not recognised and so dance therapists are not paid well. It’s a powerful therapeutic modality,” states Tripura and adds: “Only trained people should get into this other wise they will be playing with people’s lives.”
Tripura plans to organise a dance therapy conference in the near future and also conduct workshops to trains people and create an awareness of the form.
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