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A Computational Model for Bharata Natyam Choreography

A Computational Model for Bharata Natyam Choreography

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Published by ijcsis
Indian Classical dance has been the slowest to adopt technology and although choreography is mainly a domain of creativity, computers can help a lot to ease this especially for rhythmically oriented intricate footwork, Nritta and the complementary movements of other limbs of the body. The main objective of this paper is to identify and classify the various angalakshanas of Bharata Natyam. An angalakshanas in Bharata Natyam refers to classification of elementary body movements like head, eye, neck, hands and leg movements. The research aims at a well organised classification of the angalakshanas along with identification of various constraints on their co- occurrences and sequencing. The constraints may be physical, aesthetic or preferential and would be identified through literature study and machine learning from databases of existing dance repositories and training videos. The work will be useful to enhance the learning/teaching of Bharata Natyam (and other dance forms) and also for animated choreography.
Indian Classical dance has been the slowest to adopt technology and although choreography is mainly a domain of creativity, computers can help a lot to ease this especially for rhythmically oriented intricate footwork, Nritta and the complementary movements of other limbs of the body. The main objective of this paper is to identify and classify the various angalakshanas of Bharata Natyam. An angalakshanas in Bharata Natyam refers to classification of elementary body movements like head, eye, neck, hands and leg movements. The research aims at a well organised classification of the angalakshanas along with identification of various constraints on their co- occurrences and sequencing. The constraints may be physical, aesthetic or preferential and would be identified through literature study and machine learning from databases of existing dance repositories and training videos. The work will be useful to enhance the learning/teaching of Bharata Natyam (and other dance forms) and also for animated choreography.

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 A Computational Model for Bharata Natyam Choreography
 
Sangeeta Jadhav, S.S Dempo College of Commerce and Economics, Panaji, Goa India.sangeetajadhav@yahoo.comSasikumar, CDAC, Mumbai, India.the.little.sasi@gmail.com
Abstract:
Indian Classical dance has been the slowest to adopt technology and although choreography is mainly a domain of creativity, computers can help a lot to ease this especially for rhythmically oriented intricate footwork,
 Nritta
and thecomplementary movements of other limbs of the body. The main objective of this paper is to identify and classify the variousangalakshanas of Bharata Natyam. An angalakshanas in Bharata Natyam refers to classification of elementary body movementslike head, eye, neck, hands and leg movements. The research aims at a well organised classification of the angalakshanas alongwith identification of various constraints on their co- occurrences and sequencing. The constraints may be physical, aesthetic or  preferential and would be identified through literature study and machine learning from databases of existing dance repositoriesand training videos. The work will be useful to enhance the learning/teaching of Bharata Natyam (and other dance forms) andalso for animated choreography.
1. Introduction -
To develop a computational model of Bharata Natyam covering angalakshanas and talas (arhythmic cycle of beats with an ebb and flow of varioustypes of intonations resounded on a percussive instrument).Any dance form can be conceptually decomposed into someconstituent base movements involving specific body parts,and norms for combining them. The combinations areconstrained by physical constraints, aesthetic constraints, preferential constraints, etc. Treatises like
 Natyashastra
 codify such constraints and rules in a human understandableform. This research attempts to model these in acomputational framework, using practical experience andexisting literature. This would help evolving better teaching programs, better understanding of the dance form, enhancedability to compare one dance form to others in India andabroad, use ICT in composing and designing dance programmes, and so on.The basic methodology proposed would be to study andtabulate the various
angalakshanas
, relate them to tala – a beatcycle – to study constraints and preferences, and develop amachine learning model which can generate/criticmovement sequences. We propose to use artificialintelligence techniques such as neural networks, constraint programming, evolutionary programming and heuristicsearch in this process.
1.2 Structure of Bharata Natyam:
 
Bharata Natyam is one of the most ancient of all the Indian Classical dance styles.Although there is no formal notation available for the danceform, it is a highly formalized dance as described
in ancienttexts. This dance is known for its grace, purity, tenderness andsculpturesque
 poses. Bharata Natyam is based on the precepts of among others - Bharata's
 Natyashastra
and Nandikeshwara's
 Abhinayadarpana
- to mention the most well known theorists of the dance. From the moment the danseuse enters and until
dancer leaves the stage, dancer has to regulate their 
movements tomusical accompaniment in strict accordance with the rules of the dance form.
There are two major aspects to this form of 
dance:
 Nritta
(rhythmic dance movements) and
 Nritya
(representational dance). Although there is no clear demarcation between the two this research will restrict itself to Nritta or pure dance movements. Nritta is divided into
Chari
-walking movement;
 Karna
- balanced composition of handand leg movements;
 Angahara
- different combination of Karna;
Mandala
- postures with hand gestures. The body limbsare classified as:
 Anga
(main body parts);
 Pratyanga
(minor limbs); and
Upanga
(features of the face).
 Pratyanga
and
Upanga
are supposed to move in unison with
 Anga. Angalakshana
is a classification of elementary body movementswhich are as follows- Head movements– 
Shirobheda
; Neck movements -
Greevabhed 
a; Eye movements -
 Drushtibheda
;Leg movements – 
 Padabheda
; Hand movements – 
 Hastabheda
. Some of them are as follows:While performing, a dancer can use one
 Angalakshana
 
likeonly the eye for example for a beat or use all the
 Angalakshanas
 
e.g. eye, neck, head, legs, handssimultaneously for the same beat. Of course, not allcombinations are physically possible. Some are aestheticallynot recommended. Similarly, the sequence of angalakshanasfrom one beat to next also has such constraints governingthem. This is the focus of the research we discuss here.
2. Related work in this area:
Although many research paperscan be found dedicated to Western dance styles like ballet andfoxtrot, very few can be found for Indian Classical Dance.here seem to be few studies related to creating computerizedchoreography for any Indian classical dance. However thefollowing papers and articles are related to Indian classicaldance with emphasis on animation: Soumyadeep Paul, et al,[6] describes in their paper about an off-site coach who useslow band-width joint-motion data and can instruct studentswho are even geographically far away. This application does
(IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security,Vol. 8, No. 7, October 2010231http://sites.google.com/site/ijcsis/ISSN 1947-5500
 
not require the user to wear any kind of equipment. Sumant Narayan Pattanaik [7] in his article has described the work done at the National Centre for Software Technology, nowCDAC in Mumbai on creating a computational modeling of human body and movement for animating Bharata Natyamdance.
2.1 Dance Notation
One of the problems involved in creating computationalmodels for dance is that of notation. In the field of WesternDances 'Labanotation' a system using symbols to write downthe movements of dancers, especially in a ballet has beendeveloped particularly following the research conducted at theUniversity of Frankfurt [9] and Ohio State University[9].Using labanotation several software programs have beendeveloped such as LabanWriter[15], CALABRAN[13],LabanPad[10&12], Limelight[11] and LifeForms[14],However most of these programs are useful mainly either for notating and archiving dance or for animating dance.Annemette P Karpen , Bharata Natyam dancer andchoreographer since 1977, presented a paper[16],“Labanotation for Indian Dance” at the 11th Europeanconference for Modern South Asian studies, AmsterdamUniversity, July1990. In this she tried to solve the problem of notation for Bharata Natyam by using Labanotation a notationused for Western dance. However the problem was notcompletely resolved because of the many small movements of Bharata Natyam; hence she tried to adapt Sutton Shorthand Notation in which she added some extra signs for this purposealthough this was not completely systematized.Thus Labanotation is not adequate for Bharata Natyam andour proposed research focus however is totally different fromthe work mentioned above as it seeks to generate permutations and combinations of angalakshanas, for a giveninput beat, for which new algorithms may need to bedeveloped. The idea of creating a new notation is not in the purview of this research at present.
3. Proposed Computational Model:
The overall objective,as mentioned earlier, is to build a computational model of adancer’s body limb movements across time in the
 Nritta
context. We started with a study and analysis to identify thevarious distinct movements possible in Bharata Natyam of various body parts such as eye, head, neck, hand, leg, etc. Wehave now identified a collection including:9 Head movements(Shirobheda);1 Neck movement (Greevabheda);8 Eye movements(Drishtibheda);39 Leg movements(Padabheda);Hand movements(Hastabheda):
 
14 single hand(asamyukta)
 
3 double hand (samyukta)Typically at any point in time, a dancer can choose for each body part one of these possibilities. Where there is no explicitmovement, the default position can be considered. Based onexperience, observation and literature we have identifiedmovement combinations which are either infeasible or unusual. This is currently within one time unit (onecount/beat/taal).For formalizing the model, we have adopted a notation systemas follows. We use the Sanskrit name for the Angalakshanasas mentioned before; the first two letters of this name is used(sometimes three or four in case of similar ones) to indicate a position of that part for e.g. code starting with SH indicateSamyukta Hasta which is double hand movement and GBindicate Greeva Bheda which is a neck movement and so on.The various positions of a limb are given as a two character code e.g. AH-pa indicates pataka from Asamyukta Hasta.Thus across time SH-an, SH-kat, SH-aw means double handmovements moving from one position to another position.This enables us to define a dancer’s position at a particular  point in time as a vector giving the position code for eachlimb. For example in following fig.This pose cane ne vectorised as follows:
[SB, GB, DB, SH, PB].
Across time, each element of the vector changes the code. Asequence of vector represents a dance movement in timeduration. This structure will be used for further analysis andmodeling.The next concern addressed was movement feasibility. Asmentioned earlier this could be physical constraint ( sitting andstanding at same time or bending back and front or moving neck side to side and looking straight at same time is not possible) ,dance theory base( hip and chest movements are not allowed ), preferential etc.A physical constraint within a vector has been identified. Therestriction may arise more often not as a general restriction, but as applicable in certain positions e.g. if neck is in position3 at time t1 then in (t1+1) position 1 is not feasible.Identifying such constraints along with the applicable contextcan be a hard task given the exponential number of combinations possible. Not that while we expect mostconstraints to be either at a particular time point or betweentwo successive time points, it is possible to have constraintsacross more than two time units also. We do not consider thisat present.We propose to collect many instances of possible dance position vectors (henceforth dp vectors), have them labeled by human dance expert and use them to generate theknowledge base of such constraints. We have completed asimple vector generator and further refinement and labelingis in process.These labeled instances will be used in a machine learning program to build the model. Inductive learning, evolutionary programming and neural network model are under consideration at present. While a model like inductivelearning can produce human understandable knowledge,compared to models like Neural Network, other aspects such
(IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security,Vol. 8, No. 7, October 2010232http://sites.google.com/site/ijcsis/ISSN 1947-5500

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