When I was in the ninth standard or so, I decided to try my hand (and feet) at classical dancing. There was a dance teacher in school called Mrs Dhingra, who would take classes at her home. I bravely enrolled.
And thus began my one-year affair with the graceful classical dance form called Bharatnatyam. Now, I did complete one year, but I can frankly say that I wasn’t her star pupil. All that head-shaking and hand folding into delicate graceful mudras were a challenge for me, from the word go (or the words ta they they!).
I stumbled and bumbled through the year, but I am proud to say that at least I tried.
Any form of classical or organized dancing is something I find very difficult. My feet, seem to have a mind of their own. “I’ll lead, you just follow” said Lavannya the other day, at Shankar’s dance party, trying to get me to do a simple rock and roll step. Sigh. She gave up when she discovered that it wasn’t easy to lead me at all. Others too have tried and failed miserably.
My hands go somewhere, my feet somewhere else and my body doesn’t go at all.
At the beautiful and serene Nrityagram practice hall, I watch in wonder as these lovely dancers create magic in the air with their graceful movements, under the watchful eye of their guru. The practice session in progress was Odissi and I watched spellbound, as the women moved to the mellifluous voice of the singer.
There’s a certain ethereal quality to Indian dance forms that hits you when you watch a performer, weave magical patterns in the air with her feet and hands. Her eyes move from one side to the other, her eyebrows twitching as she shakes her head, conveying emotions that range from pain to joy.
My other attempt to get my body into rhythm was at a Shiamak Davar class in Mumbai a few years ago. I looked at all the lovely young lissome bodies around and thought to myself, man, what do they eat? But that thought apart, I realised that size and age is no barrier to being able to move and contort your body into strange positions.
The sessions were near my office so it was quite convenient to just walk across for a hectic round of practice. And I also discovered not so young people also, only too willing to join in for a share of the fun. So there we were – a motley group of young, no so young and bordering on getting old kind of folks – all shaking a leg to Like a Prayer. We later even performed the number on stage, my first (and possibly last) dance performance on stage.
Which brings me to the kind of dance I can manage to get by : what I call unorganized dancing. This you will see a glimpse of at parties or at a night club when you simply â€˜let go’. So even if your limbs and body is going in different directions, who cares? The point is that you’re having fun. And exercising at the same time. Is there a better way of burning calories and having fun at the same time? Dancing comes closest to achieving this purpose I’ve realized.
Pooja Bedi (one of the stars in the show) professed that she has always had 2 left feet. She was so bad that Farah Khan made her dress dance instead in that famous song sequence from Jo Jita Wohi Sikandar (I think that was the movie) with Aamir Khan, where her red dress flies all over the place. But she went on to dance the salsa with her partner who has obviously worked quite hard with her. And she seemed to enjoy it too.
*Bling* went the light in my head.
So who knows. There’s hope for me too. I’m going to go enroll myself in a dance school this weekend. In a few months, I might be able to do a hot salsa number (with a hot man hopefully?), who knows, ay? You can’t say I’m not optmistic!