Tap your right foot. Now your left. Right again. Left. Right. Left. Left. Left.
But I seemed to have only left feet. My first dance class was a lesson in coming out of my shell. My dance teacher was an unbelievably patient woman. But she had no idea how unbelievably shy I was. She started with the simplest steps. Easy footwork. Easier than march past, I would wager. And yet, every step seemed heavier than the last. A week went by and a month. I had started staying back after the regular dance class to wait for mom who would pick me up. Meanwhile, my dance teacher would tell me stories. Mythological tales, stories related to the dances we performed, and any other stories she may have told her kids when they were my age. That was the part I loved the most. I would later develop a mad obsession for stories and books. But right then, I liked to listen to her and think and imagine. Soon, she had started telling me a story related to every dance. You see, every dance we performed had some significance. They were mostly Krishna Radha tales or Meera Bai songs or old fables and the like. Once I had been inducted into the story, the song seemed to come naturally to me. Suddenly I was not so conscious of myself anymore. Much to my surprise, I discovered that I had lost sense of my body and knew not and cared not how I looked while I moved. I moved the way the song beckoned. My dear dance teacher had finally made a little dancer of me.
So, when she went away to settle in another city, I was sorely heartbroken. I knew then that no other teacher could ever teach me the way she did. No one would tell me stories or painstakingly position my arms to get the postures just right. I was on my own now.
But I didn’t want to give up on it just yet. While in secondary school, I joined another class. While making my way through the swampy waters of class X and XII, I left dance again. Then I got myself enrolled in engineering. And almost immediately after, got back to dance. After my regular college classes, I would attend the dance class for an hour and a half and then head home. The arrangement drained me of energy but enthused me with a mad passion. I achieved Visharad in Kathak dance form as I finished my graduation in computer engineering. Pretty coordinated that.
Although my introversion persists oxymoronically with my freewheeling dance fantasies, I have discovered a latent desire for classical dance in me. Something about the elegance of Indian classical dances enthralls me. I have never really gotten over my dance teacher’s stories or her graceful moves. The desire to emulate her and perform as gracefully and beautifully has remained and persisted.
|Yes, that’s me.|
The architecture of ancient buildings and the murals and paintings on old monuments make me wonder about the movements of the yesteryears. I am literally gravitated to the past. I feel the need to discover the most ancient dance forms of India. I wish to capture them as precisely and fully as I can. I want to visit the various gharaanas of Kathak, the temples of Bhartanatyam and the multifarious places in India where the classical dance forms originated. I wish to see the various forms in action. I want to bring to life the most antediluvian Indian dances possible and collate them in my blog.
“Dance, when you’re broken open. Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you’re perfectly free.”
Dance represents a zeitgeist, a revolution. Representing the spirit of the times, it takes one to an entirely different era where every movement mirrors an ideology of the society. Dance is expression and innovation combined. It is the largest and the most accurate mirror of one’s culture. Dance is love and life in action.
As Voltaire said, “Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.”