I love to dance. I may not be a perfect dancer but it doesn’t stop me from loving it. It’s all about having fun, right?
I began dancing at a really young age but only when I was alone. In other words, I would play Bollywood music and dance along in my room because I was afraid to perform in front of others. You know, like those big Indian parties where the host asks you to perform something for all of the guests? Well, when I was younger, that request used to scare me from time-to-time and to be honest, I’m not too sure why I was so shy. There’s definitely a video of mini-me crying and running off stage at a baby shower because I was afraid to continue performing.
Things have changed since then. When I was in the second grade, my awesome sauce parents decided to take me and my cousin to an annual Bharatanatyam performance by a local teacher and her students while we were living in Virginia. As soon as the curtains opened, I was awestruck. The dancers moved gracefully across the stage telling a story with each movement and each ghungroo chime. At that young age, I understood the story behind the ornate costumes and jewelry and I knew I wanted to be able to do the same. I wanted to be one of those dancers! Soon enough, my parents signed me up for Bharatanatyam classes and I was on my way to becoming a new dancer.
Sadly, we moved a year (or two?) later to North Carolina and for some reason, I was unable to continue Bharatanatyam: one of my biggest regrets. Later, I began learning Kathak but again I didn’t continue: another one of my biggest regrets.
Although, I stopped training, I never stopped dancing. If there is one thing I took away from my short-lived classical training, it was strength, confidence, and perseverance. I never gave up on dancing. I finally found something that I knew I loved; something I knew was good at; and something that I knew made me happy. If I ever had a bad day, I knew dancing could easily make it all disappear.
Dance is full of different stories, expressions and interpretations. We have the capability to make any movement and any stage our own. Because Bharatanatyam narrates many Hindu mythologies, people may pigeonhole it to ornate temple jewelry/costume and unaccessible performance venues. But we often forget that ‘the stage’ exists in many forms throughout our life.
Since the second grade, my stages have slightly changed, from dancing in front of a mirror in my room to performing in front of thousands on a dance hall stage or dancing on Juhu Beach with my sister (more on that later!). The new challenge I would like to take on with one of my best friends, Prianca Reddi, is to determine what stages surround us. I want to go on an adventure to find where dance takes people and what a dancer can make of their surroundings.
Prianca, one of the most talented dancers I know, has been trained in Bharatanatyam for more than 12 years. Featured in the picture below (and many more to come), Prianca exemplifies grace, poise, and strength on this stage, the Red Bridge at Sarah P. Duke Gardens in Durham, N.C. There is something calming and tranquil about her that it also complements her surroundings. I have my interpretations of this photo, but I’m curious to hear yours!
Below is just a sneak peak of what is yet to come! This is a project I’ve been wanting to do for a very long time and I’m glad I have finally started it. Stay tuned for more vibrant photos, locations and dances!