According to an ancient Roman author, Pliny the Elder, “Art was born from the desire to give substance to that which is incorporeal, to make permanent that which is fading.” Tracing back the history throws light on the fact ‘how shadow gave birth to art’ (when maid of Corinth traced her lover’s shadow on a wall) but the story behind ‘how art gave birth to shadow’ was quite obscure. No matter what the prevailing reasons were, today, shadow is much more than a dark reflection of the tangible and shadow art is much more than forming rabbit and monkey, against the light of the lamp on the wall. Also Read – Add new books to your shelfPerception about shadows has evolved with time. From being feared and ignored due to its dark nature, today, it is the way of creating forms out of something that isn’t there and hence forth. Shadow has the tendency to convey strong emotions through its boundless and formless nature. It can invoke curiosity among the viewers thereby keeping them engaged in exploring the veiled aspects of the art. Using these characteristic, artists like Kumi Yamashita, Tim Noble and Sue Webster have been playing these shadow games using day-to-day objects like thread, paper, cloth, broken tools, cigarette packets, soda cans and light since a long time. For example, you will be amazed to see how an exclamation point casts a shadow of a question mark when lit from one of its side. Aluminium numbers, placed in an artistic manner, gives out the reflection of a girl peeping at the crowd. Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsiveLater, the elevating interest of the crowd and the novelty of the shadow as a form of art opened the door for experimentation. This, in turn, appealed the dancers to bring out something innovative and hence, shadow dance came into existence. Meeta Nagpal, a trained Bharatnatyam dancer and the founder of Musical dreams (Talent Management & Artistic Development Academy) finds shadow dance as an extremely strong, distinctive yet a refreshing form of storytelling. She says, “Shadow Dance is an innovative and effective form for performing arts. It is unique and creates curiosity for the audience. This makes it an interesting form for storytelling as one doesn’t see it very often and anything new always holds attention”. Meeta recently presented a shadow dance piece on different facets of Delhi which allows one to rediscover the amazement, forsooth and emotions of the city. The intense shadow dance piece depicted the various shades of Delhi from bright to grey. Catapult entertainment; a shadow dance company founded by Adam Battelstein, discusses the minor technicalities of shadow dance, on their company’s website, saying, “a good shadow dancer needs to understand the foreshortening and how moving from left to right or towards and away from the screen will distort your shape. For this reason, people who have skills in the visual arts often make good shadow casters.””Making good shadow shapes requires extra efforts and one cannot just presume that a good dancer will potentially be a good shadow artist as well,” added Adam, who has always left the audience awe-struck with the shadow dance presentations.Discussing if shadow dance is difficult to perform as compared to other art form, Meeta added, “No form of performing art is easy or tough. But yes, you have to get the whole emotion across to the audience without showing any expressions, which makes it all the more challenging.”In other part of the world, a Hungarian shadow-theatre company called Attraction, have carved a special niche for themselves since they know the art of creating poignant shapes, by carefully contorting their bodiesBehind a successful performance, there is a lot of hard work and danger that the artists are dealing with. Owing to the risk involved in performing such a dance, an equal level of physical and mental stamina is essential. Commenting on the same, Zoltan, the founder of Szucs mentioned, “Each member of the group practices for 11 hours at least so as to build up the required stamina. Moreover, since accidents can easily happen when we’re standing on each others’ backs, we have daily physiotherapy and sports massages to prevent injuries.”Originating around 3000 years back, shadow dancing has not gained as much prominence as it should have been. On the question of shadow dance not being a prominent form in the country comparatively, Meeta says, “It has its own restrictions – technical and physical. It is not easy to perform and needs a lot of rehearsals. Being non glamorous and not directly in front of the audience could also be a small reason.”But she feels that it is slowly gaining popularity as people can depict a lot of things with minimal paraphernalia and maximum imagination and creativity. “It will be well received as it carries with it a lot of simplicity. It doesn’t have many shades and is right in front of you – Black and White,” she adds. Unlike other dance forms, Shadow dance is not quite popular and versatile. But owing to the creativity involved in it, this art form deserves a place in the main stream.