Role of Culture in design research and process through dance

Globalization has enabled us to come in contact with diverse entities from various parts of the world. We, today are exposed to products and services from different cultures. Even though things are created based on universal needs, adapting to the culture around is also highly essential. It could be thought that the culture of person influences them to use it in a certain way. It might not always be the way the creator wants it to be used.

Illustrated are the examples to support the perspective: Some countries have right hand drive system, while some have left hand drive systems. The vehicles have steering according to that system. One cannot use a right hand drive car in a left hand drive system and vice versa.

Another example would be the idea of communication. Signage in Korean language might not work for people in India and vice versa.

In case of death, there are multiple beliefs in disposal of human body. The usage of a coffin cannot be adapted where there is a belief of cremation.

My project i.e. Visual Narrative on Kuchipudi deals with certain dance form and culture does have a huge influence in my design process. Before putting forward my idea of cultural context in this project, I wish to point out how I view dance and design. The idea of dance and design seems very similar to me. Both are looked upon as creative ways of communication. Dance has a set of fundamentals and how it is used and modified depends on the dancer. Like every song has a different rhythm and beat, every problem has a different way of approach. In order to perform a character, a dancer needs to understand the character. Similarly, to approach a problem, one needs to empathize with that. Though the idea of dance and design seems similar, the way it is carried out is influenced by the culture. During my research, I happened to study various dance forms and each form had unique features to present. Each time the inferences gathered varied. For e.g. Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi appear to be quite similar in costume, movements and music. However, when looked deeply, they have a completely different manner of carrying the same costume and steps vary as well. Hence the way of approaching both dance forms will become different. Similarly, what follows in the contemporary style of dance is not applied for the Indian classical dance forms. The process to consider also change depending upon the location, language, music ,style etc. The way each dance form is the way it is today, is due the various changes in the surroundings around it. One cannot promote ballet shoes as a solution in a space where anklets have a value. Though technology might remain the same for all spaces, but how it is applied and used depends on different styles and forms of dance. The technology applied for frills needs to be different from the way it is applied to a kathak costume.

Considering the influence of culture on design research enable us to adapt to the various ideas and not apply a homogenous approach. Understanding the context helps in empathizing with a value it holds for people.

Communication designer