The storyteller's bag of tools

In the video above you see Preeti use a mixed bag of facial expressions and hand gestures ("mudras").

Now let's break this down: you'll find a series short video clips below, in which Preeti demonstrates each gesture and the facial expressions she's chosen to use.


For each one, she includes the name in Sanskrit (the classical language of India) and some further examples and applications.

Meet the mudras

First we'll look at hand gestures. Every culture uses its hands for expression: in bharatanatyam (Indian classical dance) these gestures are classified in minute detail. Each gesture has specific meanings and applications.

Simhamukham (face of a lion)

Kapitham  (wood apple)

Chaturam (clever / square)

Facial expressions ("saatvika abhinaya")

The techniques an Indian classical dancer uses to create an emotional mood are grouped under the term "saatvika abhinaya" (SAAT-vika ab-in-EYE-a). In particular, the face is a key tool for communicating emotion—Indian dancers train for years to perfect these expressions!

Watch how Preeti manipulates different aspects of facial expression (eyes, lips, eyebrows etc.) to create the emotional effect.

(Note: These videos have no voiceover.)

Raudram (anger)

Haasyam (laughter)

Movement analysis

There's a lot going on in Indian classical dance, even in a short sequence such as this. In the video below Preeti talks you through how she's using the classical gestural vocabulary to tell the story.

Try them yourself!

Lets have some fun! Try to practice the gestures and expressions by yourself or with someone else. Then watch the story again and see if you can spot the places where Preeti used them. 

Behind the scenes with composer Mal Stein

Mal is a frequent collaborator with Thresh and Preeti Vasudevan. In this video he talks through his creative process—how he came up with themes and textures to support Preeti's storytelling.

Antelopes in cultures around the world

Now that you've seen the antelope in an Indian story, let's see how other cultures express their creativity representing this clever creature in their own stories and legends.

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