Monday, April 21, 2014

Dance

At a very young age, I was finally enrolled in dance classes. I say finally, because it seemed like that was what was just waiting to happen, I slid so seamlessly into the role of the dancer.

These were the standard classical Kathak dance form, and my father having also been totally raised in the world where classical art forms were a requisite, it was only natural that he'd finally get his own children into the same thing. Classical music was something we already had started since he himself was a music teacher, but the actual art form of Kathak was something best left to a real dance teacher.

And boy did I love it. The arrangements, the ability to simply let go and feel your body just sway to those internal and external rhythms...I couldn't ever explain the sensation it created within. To me, it felt like life itself was already a rhythm, and this was the best way to exercise an excuse to move to it, moreover it just seemed to make so much sense of life itself. It felt so amazing to find oneself amidst a moving body all synchronized and contributing to a bigger sense of togetherness intertwined with music.

Slowly but surely, I mastered the movements and was promoted from class to class, until one day I was the smallest child amidst all these huge women. I was -as I am still now - the quiet and somewhat reticent one, and I wasn't fully formed into the grace that usually underlines femininity, and as a result I likely projected a somewhat self-conscious aura...but inside, that's where it all bloomed in the thrall of it all. I relished those moments, even as I in my self-conscious self dreaded it.

It was often the attention that made me dread the experience. I have never really been the kind of person who wants to be totally in the limelight - I guess I've always preferred being in the background, the support...although, there was also this ambiguous sensation of loving the ability to shine. It's something that sort of pulls me this way and that even till now, because I suppose there is that fluctuation balance of introvert and extrovert that constant moves the way tides do, a sway and comfort left to whichever influences are around me.

A vivid memory serves as the perfect example of this quandary. My teacher had the habit of picking on me to show off the proper way to perform a certain dance step or technique, and on this particular day, she had already asked two other bigger girls (women?) to do this for the others, and they both didn't do it the way it should have been done. She turns her glance finally toward me, gives me that haughty and knowing smirkful look of hers - I was fearful of that look, but now that I'm older and have met her since that young age, I realize this was simply her way of showing her quiet approval and pride and certainty that I was accomplished -  she asked me to do it. I looked around and felt the dread of the attention, and not only that, but more strongly the sensation that once I "showed-off" the technique and did it easily and perfectly, the other girls would hate me for it. So midway, I purposely screwed it up. And felt immediate relief in doing so...although she gave me a searching look as if she knew exactly what I did. But for me at that moment, screwing up despite knowing that I was more than capable was a better option than proving this for all to see and being singled out for it.

My dance teacher also decided that while we learnt the classical techniques, we should also be performing the usual 'bollywood' type dances, and this is something my father wasn't too happy with. He wanted the rigor of conservative and original classical dance forms, not for his money to be put into performances of little girls shaking their bootys and yet-non-existant bosoms around the stage. Soon, my having stayed at the top class without the teacher able to teach me more, and the increase of Bollywood-inspired dances, my many years as a dance student was put to an end.

Often I think back to those days and feel a longing to have been able to continue dancing in the learning environment. It was structured and such that I didn't feel the self-consciousness I did in other environments to move around and dance, because that was what was expected.

And that brings me to the other side of the coin. I am always the most reluctant of persons to join friends and whoever on the casual dance floor. I'd rather sit quietly or stay in conversation with a really good friend, or eat (ha), rather than get up and make a monkey exhibition of myself. I can't explain this reticence, I'm not really comfortable in doing the party type dancing thing...despite dance being there in my blood. I guess it's that sway again, of introvert and extrovert. It isn't really so much what other people will think of me, either, it's just a matter of my own personal comfort level.

Despite that, I still catch myself moving about unconsciously when I'm listening to music, privately and even publicly - and of course, when I'm all alone I have no qualms, dancing about early in the morning with my hairbrush while I'm getting ready to go to work is usually the norm, and the best of all is coming home down the pathways in the twilight dark or thundering rains and just letting go and dancing like no one's watching!

2 comments:

  1. shohag chand bodoni dhoni nacho to dekhi :wink

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  2. Wow, you have written about dance as thought it was and is embedded in your soul. I can't dance to save my life. Never. My friends have tried to make me dance or teach me one step. Nope! Zilch! It left me with a craving to learn dancing but a strong opinion that I can never dance.

    Although in my mind, I can dance absolutely. I had written an entire post on this. It's like when I am hearing music, I can totally visualize and feel myself dancing from within but not a muscle would move on the outside. Can't figure out how or why that happens. So when I see people like you who can let go and dance, I kinda feel jealous ;)

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