Monday, March 23, 2009

Dance your troubles away...I do !

''Music was born before Language'' - Music definitely made more sense to the primitive man than all those signs and carvings on the wall and what not ! Music definitely did evolve before langauges since music by itself was a language everyone could understand. Classic example: Starting from Sadhana Sargam to my father, there are numerous people who can sing in a language they totally dont understand !

hmmm...if I push the same argument for dance....well, Isadora Duncan, the American dancer (and apparently the mother of modern dance) replied to a question as to when she started dancing as ''my mother's womb''....tapping the tiny tiny feet (and making the mom-to-be totally crazed with happiness) is dancing too :)

I cannot remember how many times I have caught toddlers jumping up and down or simply moving to the rhythm they enjoy....its definitely a wonderful way of expression....! And somewhere along the way, when one grows up and becomes self-conscious, this form of expression is pushed to the back and probably takes a front seat only when one is in love or India wins the world cup :D

I do not know if was born that way or the soceity made me that way....I can never stop ''dancing'' anytime I hear a good number.....dancing as in tapping the feet, rocking the head and everything possible that the situation permits ! That being said, Bharathanatyam was always one of my desires...fuelled by the fact that I lived right next door to a natyalaya which Balamurlikrishna frequented. Time and moneywise, it never worked but that dint stop me form learning mudras and some basic steps from friends who did attend classes and thanks to my school annual day and arts club functions that one year I was performing Manipuri in a how-do-you-manage-with-this-ring costume and another year tamil folk in a sungudi sari. Ofcourse there were always the bollywood numbers one peforms in a wedding or a get-together and the less-approved-but-maximum-fun thappankuthu with friends ;) :D

Leaving India basically made me miss out on a lot of things and dancing was one of them. It took me a while to realise that I should be using this opportunity to maybe attend dance classes (the first ones in my life) and learn the western or more so the European dance. I still remember how weird (good weird) it felt when I signed up for tap dancing lessons at the university.

The first time I wore those shoes with those metal fastenings (that create the ‘tap’), I was bursting with excitement and thinking about all kinds of figures and poses….and guess what I learnt in the first class – how to walk !!! True, there is a posture, an elegance that has to accompany a normal walk and still make sure there is but one ‘unified’ tap sound at any moment, irrespective of the number of dancers…and boy ! Germans do like to be perfect. At the end of the class, I was left with confused feelings; jubiliation that I had taken the plunge and disappointment that I had learnt really little in an hr ! At the end of the course, I had learnt a few interesting steps and above all had thoroughly enjoyed the experience that I made a mental note that I was going to this regularly. Well…time decided otherwise….I graduated and could no longer take part in the student courses and this was followed my moving to another city for my job. All this waiting was at times annoying…but the wait was well worth it since I found a great dance school and during my first lesson I knew that it was the best place to be!

Lead and let lead

What I hadn’t counted on was how the whole concept of ballroom dancing depended on ‘the man leads and the woman follows’ ! I was used to our very own desi dancing where the girl has her own feminine steps with her flowing skirt, colorful bangles, henna hands….and even if there is a pair dancing they have similar and/or complementary steps and the only thing they care about is rhythm. But in ballroom dancing, the man decides what steps to do and when. This means how a pair of dancers look totally depend on when and how he makes the girl aware of his intentions (dancing intentions, that is !), in short, you need a good leader more than a good dancer !

Needless to say, my first unofficial ballroom dance lesson was a catastrophe. I was so psysched not only because of the hitherto-not-used-to-physical-contact but with the whole concept of how I had to follow directions to that meant only expression and independence to me, dance that only meant ''shake to the rhythm''....! So distracted was I with these that I had trouble even getting the basic steps right, steps I had done before scores of times seeing the TV. I was disappointed and embarassed. This actually made me sign up with a dance school with a vengeance and from then on, I have never looked back !! I definitely have to sit down and jot down the stories of my ballroom dancing...someday....

One thing that has remained unchanged all along is how a bit of dancing (or simply jumping around in the pretext of dancing :D) always cheers me up and brightens my day (irrespective of how dull and grey it may be outside) dont let the dancer in you sleep....let him/her stay awake, jump and enjoy all there is to life :)

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