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Thursday 4 January 2018

To Dance or not to Dance?

Anybody can dance, they say.
Not everybody should dance, I say.

A peculiar childhood affliction that refuses to go away or palliate with age - The insubordination of limbs, especially under the influence of music. Yes, these are the confessions of a born non-dancer.

One remembers with a shudder those traumatizing moments of the wonder years when called upon by the elders of the family (a.k.a monster ragging committee) to take center stage and entertain the populace with one's accomplishments. Sadly for me and even sadder for my parents, I could neither sing nor dance, the mandated traits of a south-Indian upbringing. Well, to be fair the parents tried enrolling me for singing lessons but I couldn't make sense of learning the 'swararas', 'raagas' and 'taals'. Why would I want to learn them when I could sing 'Ek, do, teen..chaar panch, ....' perfectly? Of course, it wouldn't go down well with the stiff upper lip audiences to sing that number or 'Choli ke peeche kya he...', however tunefully! 

Dance on the other hand, I was very keen about and eager to learn. I gazed at beautiful femme fatales dancing in movies and knew I had dance in me, I could feel it in my bones, though they didn't exactly know it - the bones I mean. 
If I wanted to move my legs in a particular direction, they went the other way and if the arms came into the picture, it was even worse. And how on earth does the waist operate? Add music, and the situation becomes direr, not one step in sync with a beat! 
It's like this, I cannot comprehend what part of the body to move or how to move it to make a particular dance step happen! 
You can't get what I am saying? Watching me dance is like watching a remote operated dancing doll with a serious malfunction, yeah totally weird! Something to do with basic motor skills or muscular co-ordination, I would say. 
People just had to utter the word dance and the little me would set off in full steam. Arms, legs, head and whatever else moving in gay abandon! The parents seeing their offspring hopelessly gyrate thus, kindly refrained from encouraging me to dance for the said family gatherings. 

When a neighborhood aunty volunteered to conduct free kathak lessons, I jumped at the opportunity. But the ta-thai-thai, tat-a-thai-thai was too slow for me. Man, I wanted to groove to Bollywood and western numbers. Anyway by the end of three free classes, the danseuse aunty gave up the venture under the pretext of a bad back. And that was also the last of my formal dance training. Still my mom, the ever enthusiastic parent garbed me in her own version of a bharatnatyam costume and set me up on the fancy dress stage to perform my profound learning of 1.5 kathak steps. Till date I haven't forgotten the chuckles and sniggers in the audiences at my appearance and performance. Childhood scars take long to heal they say. 

Fast forward to college days. I felt terribly deprived and let down when the entire class went up on stage for a group dance leaving me to handle the music and backstage operations. Yeah, yeah I had auditioned, humphh!

Time and age mellow down old habits. Says who? My insubordinate limbs continued their way of life and I continued deluding myself that it was just that I hadn't found the right frame of mind to learn the trick of the twirl! 
I decided to observe and learn. Yes, I learned quite a bit then. See, it was nothing to do with grace and agility, one needed the right facial expressions while dancing. I observed that you had to lip sync all that the DJ played whether or not you knew the song, it looked so cool! You had to scrunch your eyes and bite your lips for certain raunchy numbers. Then of course you closed your eyes and lolled your head for trance numbers. Armed with this new ammunition I launched my new dance avatar at the next party. I tell you, I totally let myself go, emotionally connecting with the music. My face spewing a million expressions in tandem with the numbers being belted out. And what happens? A gentleman comes up to me with genuine concern and asks if I am alright. Another hurries to fetch me a glass of water and a third calls up the ambulance. Arghhh!
Dance like no one's watching.
Dance when no one's watching.
After that incident, I avoided all events which required me to dance. Of course if the event was held in dim light or even better flickering disco lights which make even a PT exercise session look like a terrific dance sequence, I took full advantage of the moment!

Years passed and I found a better half who was not only dance-savvy but also an amazing dancer! You can't imagine my apprehension while watching my babies toddle and totter awkwardly to music wondering if they'd gained the sans-dance gene or the profound relief when I see them today effortlessly glide and gracefully pirouette to any music. Yeah! The kind of relief that a deaf-dumb couple has when they see their child is perfect in every sense! Remember the movie Koshish, featuring Sanjeev Kumar-Jaya Bhaduri as a deaf-dumb couple? The difference in my case - only one parent (me) was dance-challenged!

Several years down the line, I am still on a self-imposed dance abstinence. I stoically hold on to a brimming mocktail glass or a loaded snack platter, merely tapping my feet to the music, off sync of course but still way more dignified than going on my dampage (dance+rampage)! 
The spouse, the children, friends, every one implores me to dance but in vain. The more I refuse, the more folks pine to see me dance. They want the demure/timid me to let my hair down (little knowing of the tandav I am capable of unleashing). They drag me center stage and urge me to do just a wee shake, pretty please! At events, people start betting on whether I will shake a leg or not. It seems to be everyone's one point agenda and aim in life - to see me dance. 
Aha! Life has come a full circle. When you are free and willing to do something, no one values it and when you play hard to get, somehow you become all the more enticing!

So now at any event where dancing is involved, all eyes are riveted on me, waiting, watching and craving for the improbable to happen. Sometimes I relent graciously, doing a gentle body sway (mastered after hours of diligent practice) and on very rare occasions, a bit of foot tapping accompanied by a hip move (I figured this one by repeatedly pushing heavy sofas around the house) and whaddya know? The party erupts in convulsive happiness at having witnessed this incredible sight. 
I've found the solution to my dancepitude (dance+ineptitude), create demand by restricted supply!


Sharing a much loved ad from the 90's of this gal's dance of joy and total abandonment!

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