Wednesday, 18 June, 2008

Dance baby dance


My mom tells me that I started dancing even before I started walking. The whole day I would keep dancing, whether there was music or not. As a kid I would start dancing and my doting parents and relatives thought that there is a dancing genius among them.
To give my potential the required boost my parents decided to put me in a dancing school. My mom must have asked around and got to know about this Bharatnatyam school near our house. I remember very clearly going to this school for the first time with my mom when I was all of 4 or 5 years old. It was housed in an old rambling ground floor house, and in every space available there were people dancing. Mostly it was women, but there was a fair scattering of men as well. I remember looking at them wide eyed, thinking how I would love to be one of them.
I started dancing school; classes were two days a week—Wednesday and Saturday. Initially I was very excited and kept practicing whatever they taught me there, made some friends also. The teacher who taught us was called Girija and she used to beat a wooden stool with a stick and at times throw that stick, aiming the feet of whichever girl who was getting her steps wrong. So girls used to be rather afraid and we all used to fear Girija’s lashing tongue as well the flying stick.
I learned dancing for almost 10 years. But after my initial excitement, something died in me and I lost my enthusiasm to dance. The school was too strict and rigorous and they never let us do anything on our own, or let us use our imagination. There was too much stress on the grammar and spontaneous dancing was totally discouraged and frowned upon. The school believed that for the first 10/15 years dancers should not be performing for the public, so no dressing up, no excitement of performing in a function. Very soon I started to get bored, stopped picking up the steps properly, started making mistakes in class, was made to shift from the first row from among the good dancers to the last row and join the bunch of losers. It was a huge blow to a girl of 10/11. I started to hate dancing school and dancing along with it. I kept begging my parents to get me off, but in their book if you start something you finish it. So no go. I kept thinking of all silly excuses for not going. Finally when I was 15 or 16 and at a very rebellious stage I just refused to go. My mom could not convince me through love, affection, and threat. So she went and informed Girija that I would not be coming any more. Girija had apparently told her that I was good and I should not be allowed to discontinue. Thankfully my stubbornness was more than hers and finally my mother had to give in.
Till this day dancing horrifies me. I have lost all love for that art form. Even when friends go dancing they cannot convince me to dance. Nor do I like watching people dance randomly, I keep trying to find grammar in their dance, which frustrates me and sooner or later get thoroughly bored. When a friend after dancing for an hour, comes and tells me that it was good fun, I completely fail to get it. In most parties I feel like an odd one out, a complete freak who does not dance. If and when I find another non-dancer, it makes my evening. I hate explaining to people that I do not dance, thank you very much. And the worst is when people start pulling you by your hand; they think a tug would loosen all my inhibitions and make me dance, as if. For me dance has too much history and horror. Also due to the rigorous training that I underwent, it has been drilled in my head that dance is a very disciplined art, which you start with a pranayam (prayer to the gods) and you just do not let yourself go and throw your body to the music without rhyme or reason. I do not think I can ever let myself go in that way. This is what 10 years of dancing has done to me—killed all the spontaneity that I had as a kid.

2 comments:

  1. Hey Thats not fair, I think you are old enough to give up fears which you know have no basis and no truth to them! I can imagine the amount of grace you have when u have learnt bharatnatyam for 10 whole years!! Boss U are now in trouble.

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  2. heyyyy....well i wont say it is fear...it is complete lack in interest which came about...now dance is not something i enjoy come what may...screw grace...:)

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