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Finding the connection between sign language & dance - My Take by Avantika Bahl

As a dancer and choreographer, I am always interested in finding different methods of expression using movement. Contemporary dance gives me the space to work in a way that is conceptual and open to various meanings.

Growing up, I was fascinated by sign language, the soundless communication, and the ability to have private conversations in public spaces. I don't have any friends or family members who are deaf, but wanted to learn how to sign.

There is something special about watching the deaf communicate as sign language is very similar to dance. Both use the body to express oneself.

In 2015, I started learning sign language. It changed my understanding of language and the meaning of communication. It showed me how we rely on one sense organ more than the others.

I decided to find a way to marry movement and sign to create a show with someone whose relationship with sound was completely opposite to mine. I worked with deaf dancer Vishal Sarvaiya on a performance.

I started to learn more about deaf culture, identity and community. Learning to communicate in silence has led to an appreciation of the beauty of signing, that one does not need complicated words but simply be honest to what we communicate.

About the Writer:

Avantika Bahl is a dance practitioner from Mumbai. She studied at the London Contemporary Dance School and helps run Dance Dialogues, a platform that connects independent dance makers in the city.

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