my dance teacher or me?
Rich in its grace, rich in its expressions, Bharatanatyam defines culture to every Indian woman. It is an art that transforms the beauty of woman not just by appearance but also as a culturally aware woman. My Bharatanatyam experience started off when I was three years old. As a kid, I’ve dreamt of being ‘that’ girl shown in Bollywood movies, who can keep her audience captivated through her expressions and postures. Then started by beautiful yet journey that I regret.
After school, four days in a week I had dance classes for two complete hours. I still remember those mandatory theory classes that required learning the importance of each posture and so on. As a kid, I remember that I was always excited and eager to learn more; not just because of the dance form but also because of my teacher. Recently, my mom reminded me of her name ; Miss Roopa . Miss Roopa contributed towards much of my childhood Bharatanatyam dancing. Right from choosing the colors of my outfit to being enthusiastic and appreciative of every step I take, she has always been my pillar of support and encouragement through those elementary school years.
My parents played a vital role in this process. Right after school, Amma came with packed lunch, took me too classes, watched me train for two hours and took me back home. As soon as she was home, she had to prepare dinner for us. It was definitely a time investment for everyone in the family. As the days progressed, I enjoyed the art more, learnt more mudras, learnt more abhinayas and also learnt more respect to my teacher. I eventually made it to a single stage performance when I was 6 years. This performance still gives me Goosebumps today. It was a performance that created an identity for myself, a performance that made me see my dad tear up for the first time, a performance that brought out the confidence in me and a performance that I can never relive! It wasn’t easy to let go of this art.
A time came when my dance teacher had to leave India because she got an opportunity to teach abroad. At that time I was just told, “Miss Roopa will not be teaching Bharatanatyam at this center anymore” and BAM that moment just felt like a greater loss than it should have. Even though I started training under a new teacher, my dance experience felt like it’s lost a major part of its essence. I later trained under a teacher who taught in the same community we lived. It was definitely more convenient. I still recollect those days when I came home saying that the teacher didn’t show up because I really didn’t feel like learning it from her.
From then on, after a few performances, my dance career went downhill.
Why didn’t my parents force me? Why did I drop it? Why did Miss Roopa leave? Why didn’t I try a different teacher? WHY? These questions haunt me till this very second I’m writing this. I’ve regretted dropping out on Bharatanatyam. When not many students even learn the art when they were six, I performed in front of an audience of six hundred when I was six. If I were completely determined, I would have achieved more on a large scale.
It simply hurts to see any Indian classical dance being performed in front of me from that time. People say it’s not too late to start, but honestly nothing like being trained when I was six!