One of the things I will always regret is not continuing to dance. As a child (as in most South Indian households, though mine doesn’t strictly qualify as one) both my sister and I went through the motions of learning Kathak, Bharatanatyam, Carnatic music and so on… I remember the pangs of jealousy when my sister got to perform on stage before I did with a whole bunch of acclaimed dancers.
One of my cousins too is a qualified dancer now. Over the years I attempted to keep up dancing and singing and even playing an instrument but somehow never managed to get around to a sufficient level of expertise. So here I am someone with a sense of rhythm and well… that is about it, really.
There’s definitely something I love about Indian Classical dance forms though. Maybe it’s the fact that they manage to combine theatre and dance so exquisitely together. Or perhaps I find the movements, the beats and the feeling overpowering.
This verse by Tirumular sums it up nicely:
“We bow to Him the benevolent One
Whose limbs are the worlds,
Whose song and poetry are the essence of all language,
Whose costume is the moon and the stars…”
“The dancing foot, the sound of the tinkling bells,
The songs that are sung, and the various steps,
The forms assumed by our Master as He dances,
Discover these in your own heart,
So shall your bonds be broken.”
The beauty of it is that dance is a means of communication. This makes them the dance of the mind, the soul, the being and the universe at the same time. Few things possess such a quality all at the same time. Its all about bliss and harmony… central to all that governs the Aesthetic tradition in India, the Rasa theory in fact. One could argue that there is little innovation (as Dr. Rekha Jhanji does) in Indian art, strangely though it takes nothing away from the sensuous quality of Indian dance. Due in part to the fact that the Indian aesthetic tradition was never really about the artist as much as it is about the form and meaning of what it seeks to depict.