Post 3 in Mindful Ramblings

A group of students dancing Kathak - an indian classical dance form

Tarana Kathak Academy students with their teacher

My Dance Journey and Giving Back

Published August 17, 2019

I have been dancing since I was 8 years old, and I’ve learned for 8 years. My journey in Kathak, an Indian classical dance form, has shown me how much I love and appreciate dance, and how eager I am to give back.

As a 3rd grader, I remember enjoying small aspects of class time, mostly the kinetic parts where we got to move around. Yet, I didn’t give the dance form the proper appreciation it deserved. Strict discipline at age 8 is never enjoyable. The car rides to class would be full of complaints and nagging, as repetitive and mundane tasks weren’t particularly thrilling.

What made it all worth it? As I got older, I found the goal of graduation and annual performances to be my motivation. Stepping out on that stage, decked out in bright fabrics and heavy, glistening jewelry, feet losing blood flow from the cuffs of bells tied around my ankles, and an adrenaline rush impeding coherent thoughts, made it all worth it. The performance was the final expression of all my hard work. I could embody a character with my expressions, tell a story through my hand gestures, and frankly, show off! It really felt like a form of meditation. There was nothing else to think about except the moment. I think its really hard to hold a blank mind, with absolutely no worries. But that’s what dancing, purely for the sake of dancing, feels like. And this feeling visited me more and more often during my performances and final year practices. These later years were when I truly fell in love with dancing.

Along the way, our teacher saw a spark in me and trusted me to the younger students, as I was hired as an assistant teacher at my studio. My heart felt full knowing that I could give back to the institution and community that had given so much to me. Teaching a small group of 4th years has opened my eyes and shifted my perspective on dancing. On my own, I have learned that a dance is powerful and effective in communication when the dancer truly embodies both the character and the dance. The emotion and cultural/religious story attached must come out and be expressive. I’ve found that this concept, along with grace, is impressively hard to teach. My desire is for all of my students to be able to dance at a high level and attain grace, although it does come with time. It helps to teach my kids about the sentiment behind certain movements or what religious story a piece is trying to tell, as they then understand what emotion to depict or what kind of body language to use. By helping these smaller pieces develop, I see better storytelling from my students. However, the most important aspect I know that makes dance powerful is love and motivation from within the dancer. In my experience, I can’t really teach this. It has to come from within. Typically, these factors only show up on the stage, but time and commitment help as well. The more years I’ve stayed with dance, the more I’ve realized my passion and love, which becomes a self-fulfilling cycle of motivation. I strive to instill the same kind of drive within my students, to the point where this activity becomes a form of meditation for them, just like it is for me.

For my next blog post, I hope to tell you all a little more about my graduation ceremony, an important milestone in my life. I hope you all enjoyed reading this little insight into a passion of mine!

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