“We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.” — Friedrich Nietzsche
I may not practice dance every day, but I cannot imagine my life without it. Ever since the age of five, I have been learning an Indian classical dance form called Bharatanatyam. When my first teacher moved I remember her words that stuck with me: Don’t ever quit. She gave me her ghungrus (bells around the ankles). I promised her I wouldn’t quit, and wore them to every performance I have given.
My mother attempted to make me switch to Odissi (another Indian classical dance form that she claimed to like better, and due to the availability of teachers in the area) to which I firmly argued against. I couldn’t break my promise.
Time went by and my group, now lost without a teacher, flitted between many different ones. We finally found one who we have been with for many years. Some days we didn’t want to go to class, we didn’t want to keep our hair long, we didn’t want to practice, but it paid off. We performed the “graduation piece” called Varnam, which is the highest level piece you can learn.
Bharatanatyam has taught me patience and stamina.
Dance is my happy place – my relax-y place. For the longest time that I have danced, it was just an extracurricular. Just another class to attend. Now I am more flexible – I have gone from music auditions to performances and vice versa fully clad in the outfit and gotten perplexed looks from the judicators. I didn’t care what people thought of me.
Only now do I comprehend the reason dance has been such an immense part of my life: it shaped me to be who I am, and kept me rooted to my culture.
Bharatanatyam is the trunk of my tree, and I won’t be fully assimilated unless my tree is cut down. I think everyone should have a strong tree, whether it is a small or large. Knowing that I, and many others are dancing the same steps that were danced in an ancient time makes the world seem timeless in a sense. It is as if the world is dancing itself; and everyone should make it dance more in their own way.
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