About the article:
This year `2019 July' I finally decided to perform in our college reunion'. This is written as my story/warning to my friends in my college. :)
From childhood I was very fond of dancing. But it was a strict No in my house.
After coming to Bangalore I have made multiple attempts and due to situations at work, life etc it failed multiple times.
At the age of 38, was the first time in my work life we had 1 month of lean period in office and hence I got some time, post work-hours. Else being a workaholic I never felt interested in anything else other than office work. I attempted to start learning dance and searched for a BharataNatyam teacher and successfully got the details. She was an engineer who joined Kalakshetra in Chennai after completing her engineering, to pursue degree and post graduation in dance. Being from a Tamil Bhahmin family with lot of interest in traditional arts, her father wanted somebody in the family to continue in traditional arts and she was interested and was ready to forget her engineering degree for dance. I was thoroughly impressed. My first question to her was “Can I start learning dance at this age?” Her answer was that the founder of Kalaksethra started learning Bharatanatyam at the age of 30 +. This was a big confidence booster to me and I was thinking jokingly “If not starting a dance institute, I can atleast learn dance”. I started my adavu’s (basic step) in Kalakshethra style. But I had to quit dance learning there in 6 months as she had to stop teaching due to her pregnancy and delivery.
Then after some search I got to know about a dance institue*** near my house. Only after joining there, I came to know that it was a place where mainly local political leader's and real estate king's kids study. Being part of the influential academy, with less than 6 months of learning , I could participate in Surya Krishna Moorthy’s Surya Arts Festival. But instead of being happy about it, I was feeling the entire program from the group was an insult to art, seeing the politics involved in the program. All kids from political familiy were allowed to bring their own trophy and was awarded on the stage with the details and titles given by their parents. Order of standing in a performance on stage dependson the political level of your parent (not based on height!!!). I could not control laughing seeing that and felt it was the biggest mockery of art I have ever personally witnsessed. That day itself I decided to leave that place. Many advised me to continue till I use the HUGE advance fees paid, but my consiousness didn't allow me to do that :)
I was with this institute in 2014 , our last reunion time. Comparing my performance with other kids, I thought “Oh I am a good dancer and I can perform for our reunion”. ( After some years this understanding got corrected :) ) And I was offered fast promotions which made me think I am a fast learner, later realized it was the way to make me pay faster :) (fees was based on completion of levels)
(***I don't want to defame that institue, so not mentioning the name)
After the next search, I came to know about the class conducted by Kalamandalam SreejayaNair (Malayalam movie fame). A very humble, highly professional teacher and very good classes. But I had to start from the beginning as the styles were different. Within one year I had to leave that place too. This time it was just due to my personal life. I got divorced in 2014 (that was the reason I could not come for the last reunion) and got married again in 2015. Change in location, change in weekend schedule etc. I had to quit. And I used to tell my husband “I think I have to keep my dance wishes for next birth”.
But I think if you really wish something very strongly from mind, universe will make it work for you. In 2016 end, one day I got an invitation from my son’s friend's mother to attend an annual program of her daughter’s dance school and that was near to my house. Being surprised about not knowing about that school, I Immediately called the teacher and told her “ I want to learn dance, but I may be even elder than you”. She told “No problem, there are many mother daughter cases as her students”. So in 2016 end, I joined Benaka Natya Mandir. A very dedicated , passionate, encouraging and experienced teacher with many experienced students. With God's grace I am continuing with the teacher from that time. And I wish and pray to continue even after 60+ :)
But joining there only I realised that dance learning needs at least 6+ years continuous learning to feel that you can dance. Seeing annual day's videos, and seeing how the seniors perform, I realised that I don’t dance good even infront of my eyes. And that was the reason I decided not to participate in our reunion.
Whenever I have referred to somebody that I am going for dance class, their first question would be “Oh.. you are teaching dance”.. and I will reply “No I am learning”. Then their question would be “You would have been learning for many years “ and I would reply “No just started, .. No just 1 year.. 2 years" and now reaching the 3rd year with Rekha ma’am.
So the expectation on a 46+ yrs old lady is very high. But when a kid with 2 yrs + experience dance, we know what to expect.
My husband and son is a big support for me. Among all the married people in our group, I am the only one lady in our batch whose husband and son attend all our programs, travel with the group wherever we have performed and get me snacks and water back stage ( which they do to make me feel that I am doing something great:) ) and they encourage me when I see my videos and critisize myself. And in programs my husband click photos and my son record the videos in the phone ( after every program my son complains about his hand pain to hold the phone steady during the entire duration). And once ma'am told me, it was a different scene to witness a teenager boy recording his mother's programs (as most boys hate to watch 'the boring' Indian classical dance) where the normal scene would be a parent recording the children performing.
Last week when I told ma’am that I will be absent for class on this Friday, mentioning about our reunion and travel on Friday, she asked me why I am not performing. I told her "Ma’am there are Kalathilakam's and dance experts in our batch and me dancing infront of them won’t be good". Her reply was “you don’t worry what others think, you dance for your happiness” and she added that “unlike others, you started to learn dance at this age and I am proud of you”. So I decided to perform to show my respect for her.
So, be warned and expect the dance from a 2 years + experience student not from.a 46 yr old :)
And unlike other mom's learning with her( they have same age company in their batch), I am the only one lady in our batch. Sometimes I feel out of place when the kids are discussing about soil and crop distribution in georgraphy classes, about homeworks, recent book they read etc etc. Eventhough feeling out of place, secretly feeling relieved about "Ey.. I don't need to study geography and history any more" and I smile looking at them with a proud feeling of achievement about me completing my upper primary and hight school classes years back :). At the same time, you get some positive experience too. In India age is measured in terms of height and weight and being low on both, many compliment being with kids, they think I am also one among them (not a kid, but some have expressed surprise to know that I am an even married and shocked when I tell that I have a son who is elder than most of my batch mates :) That day I walk keeping my head high and smiling.
And before I joined classes I never felt I had time to do all these. I was/am a workaholic person. I used to get withdrawal symptoms if I didn't open laptop as soon as I reach home. Now I keep few hours for myslef ( and may still try to get my requried doze of work being awke till late mid night and blame the situation that I have to work with a team in US team). But I ensure not to miss my classes and I am very happy when I dance.
So me dancing is not to show my dance performance, it is just to share my happiness. AND THIS IS MY FIRST SOLO. So be warned :)
And I dedicate this article to my teacher Rekha DineshKumar of Benaka Natya Mandir for her encouragement and support.