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Architecture as a performance : Linking the tradition to the modern

A focus on treating architecture as a physical functional object instead of a space that provides
experience to users has led architects to concentrate more on the visual qualities of a building rather than giving essence to it. Thus, searching for new techniques in design process to find the right
expression of the space is an essential. Dance is an art form that completely engages the body and the
space, facilitating it. In Indian context, the study of classical dance and architecture with reference to ancient treatise is worth exploring. It is observed that the traditional design process enhanced the building and the users to be the part of the performance but the modern design process is limited to the stage only irrespective of the ambience created. This is a research of how the theories of dance help in creating experience in another art form – Architecture, and how architecture can transform to behave as a performance itself keeping the ancient principles intact. Kathak and modern architecture are both art forms, but there doesn’t seem to be many similarities between the two art forms. In Kathak, varied poses are momentary glimpses, which get linked in our memory through a sequence of movements. Thus, the overall structure of the dance can be held only in the mind and thus is temporal. Whereas the elements of any architectural composition are arranged statically in space, thus their positions and interrelationships are fixed. But conceptually even architecture has a temporal structure, for instance, a given spatial arrangement can be considered as a static glimpse, and a succession of such glimpses, is seen several times, at different stages, evolving and expanding. On the other hand, the dynamism of dance can also be seen to have a static attribute if we observe that the human body has an unchanging identity in space. Thus, it can be perceived that both art-forms represent a series of glimpses of space through motion. Another concept that is comparable in both art forms, is that both originate from a single point and move around the vertical axis. In Kathak, the origin point is the navel formulated as the mid-point of a circular mandala, positioned in the front on the vertical axis. It is further divided into four quarters by vertical and horizontal axes passing through the navel. Just like Kathak, Indian architecture has similar axiality, where the mandala has both vertical and horizontal axis, aligned with the four cardinal directions with a central vertical axis rising to the point at the summit converting it to three- dimensional. Thus the illustrations are a part of process to build a connection between them.

Stuti Bhargava