So You Think You Can Dance??
4 years old. Your mum dresses you up in a nice, flowery skirt and top. Its the summer holidays. All you want to do is play in the mud outside! After all, your cronies are all doing the same thing.
But you don't say a word. You go along with your parents who are visibly excited about something... You have no idea what. You concentrate on not stepping on any goop on the way lest you ruin your favourite pair of shiny shoes...
You reach a street thats very familiar to you, coz your best friend from playschool lives there. Are we going to her house?, you wonder... No. We seem to be heading somewhere else. You hear a faint gaggle of noise from up ahead... Kids talking and shouting excitedly? What is happening? A birthday party?? Will they have cake? Do we have to give them presents??
You reach a one-room house, the source of all that noise. You're curious.. peering inside, you see a man sitting on the floor, with what seems like a block of wood and a stick in front of him. You see a couple of kids your own age standing there, facing him... Moving to a rhythm.. beating their feet on the ground... Dancing!! So thats what this is all about!! You're being enrolled in a dance class! You're called inside. There's a lamp burning on the floor. You pay your respects to it. And to the Teacher. And then the lessons start. And they've been going on till date.
Over one and a half decades of dancing is what I have today... To have started as a toddler and growing with it, dance has been such an integral part of my life that it doesn't seem like an add-on activity anymore. Its what I do.. Its what I've always done..
People ask me... "So you're still learning?? Haven't you learnt it all by now? How long has it been?"
Its not like a curriculum, you know. Its not like formal education systems where it is understood that you will attend school for 12 years and then go to a college for 3-4 years and then you're done.
I wonder what has kept me going all these years. I've certainly had my share of bunking classes for lame reasons, because I simply did not want to go to the dance class. But I've outgrown that and how... When did that happen? I don't know but I'm glad for it.
And now that I've been teaching dance myself, when I see my students learning what I'd learnt all those years ago, trying to make sense of all the abstract actions and steps that befuddled me in those days, I believe about life coming a full circle.
Is dance an outlet for my creative energies, as I've heard a countless number of times? No. Its not something as simple as that. Dancing has become way beyond an outlet [not that I have a dearth of 'outlets' for my creative expression either! ;)]. Its a way of life now... That comes as naturally to me as breathing. It has moulded me into an independent individual. It has given me an identity I'm proud of. A treasure-trove of knowledge that cannot be substituted. And above all, added a dash of beauty and grace to what was otherwise a mundane existence...