I agree my title is a full-on vintage drama but well it is what it is. It’s the story of a timid, shy little girl (not so little) and her journey from the audience to the stage. It’s not just a simple narration, but it’s what my heart felt after I decided to tell my younger self that it’s time for my feet to shine and make some noise!
I remember my days of agony when I was a student, and I wanted to be a part of school annual day functions. I was always rejected, or the teams got full as I had no knowledge of classical dance forms, blame it on my parent’s who felt that education was what you study in your classrooms and what’s written in your books and what is measured through an exam. Extracurricular activities had no space or value in those days. It used to be a battle where in my thoughts I used to be prepared to fight for my dance and my drawing but as soon as it was time to speak out I would be mute. After a while, it was instilled in me that I can’t dance. Maybe this thought is what made my body stiff, and possibly the bullying that young adults did to me knowingly or unknowingly by giving me negative attention is what made me confirm my feeling that I am not meant to dance. Ever since then I chose to be in the audience, secretly moving with the dance steps of the brilliant dancers on the stage. Every performance I watched made me think “I wish I were there.”
After 19 years of leaving School and after the 6th birthday of my daughter when she demanded that I want to learn Kathak, the thought of dance retouched my nerves. Just recently I had seen my friend’s Facebook where she posted a video of herself and her daughter almost the same age as mine learning Kathak. Though it did inspire me but did not give me the strength or courage to think beyond or break the notion I had about me. It was only when my daughter’s demands grew stronger. I decided to fix an appointment with Smt. Nrityashri Alaknanda Ji, She is the Founder, Director and Guru of Kathak at Alaknanda Institute of Performing Arts (AIPA), India, lovingly called as “Di”. After all, she should get a fair chance of trail. Di asked Saara (my daughter) why Kathak? To which she replied “because I want to”, and Di said yes precisely the same way she had started dancing almost the same age, the calling had come for her to dance. I mentioned to her that at some point in time I wanted to learn classical dance too. She promptly said “why not start now?” I said “I would love to, but I am not sure if I will be able to”. She replied that leave it to me and come for trials and then the magic happened. Di handed Saara and me over to her best disciple Divya mam.
Our classes started, and all my desires began flowing through my dance steps. The first time I did the “Namaskar“, the time when I tied those beautiful “small ankle bells (ghunghru)” on my legs I thought do I even deserve this and just then an innocent voice from my within strongly said yes. I didn’t realise when these trial classes went from months to a year, and I had my first dance performance right after a year, and I was exactly 36 years old.
I was amazed at what I could do and had surprised my family too. But then I want to appreciate and wonder about how much patience and risk Di took in making me or anyone like me a part of the group. It was only because of her trust, love and support that I managed to get it right if not perfect. She rightly says “there is no age for learning, just believe in yourself“. This has strengthened my belief in me and has kept me going.
Today when I look back I regret not to have supported my sister good enough when she wanted to learn Bharatnatyam as a profession, it could be my mindset or maybe my ignorance. I would have been a proud sister of a famous dancer, but I am still a proud sister of a good human being. For if it had been for me alone, I would have quit long back, but another key person who has been instrumental in my successful walk on this journey is my little Sister. Every time I called it over, she would stand firm and say no keep going, you dare not do that. She made me do the right thing when I was in the state of dilemma and weakness when I felt I should stop doing this and I would go back to her when she would say no no just keep going just keep going so this is my journey my journey of dance.
One thing I learned above all is that If you love something, you should go for it, or at least give it a shot. To put it in perspective “you should dream first, for the dream to come true.” As I said this is not just a story, but it’s a narration of the beginning of my dance. My passion. I do not know where this road will take me, but yes I am not walking alone. I have dance within me. So, gather whatever courage you have and start finding your passion that is pressed deep down in your heart, it just needs a little encouragement because “desires don’t ever leave us; we only suppress them.”