I have so much to share today because I did exactly what I had planned to do: I woke up and I danced (okay I showered in between but that’s it!)
As I was graduating from Kalakshetra, Leela Samson warned me that it would be a challenge to maintain one’s practice without the support of a teacher, classes, and classmates. She was absolutely right. It isn’t the same fun dancing alone in a room and receiving no feedback but the echoing off the walls.
But now, four years later, I feel so determined/inspired to develop a personal practice for myself. And today I simply gave myself a dance-class. In looking at my videos today, I see it appears almost like a mini-tutorial.
I move from one movement-sequence, or what we call ‘adavu’, to the next, in the order that Kalakshetra follows. Also, each step is done in 3 speeds. I used the camera as my mirror, so I look at the camera instead of at my hands which is not the proper way :p
Dr Frosch at University of Florida encouraged me to let the movements pose questions to me. And I recently came across this idea again in the words of UK-based Shobana Jeysingh. She said that at some point the adavus begin to speak to you, pose questions to you. That’s an experience I’m waiting for!
I’m really excited about my first full on dance class to myself, so bear with me here with the many videos. I begin with Tat Adavu 1, the very first step in the Bharata Natyam building blocks. Uses feet only. Hands are usually on the hips, but I kept my hands on my front and back to prevent the habit of arching my lower back:
Still only feet:
Tat adavu 6
Nat adavu 5
This is a beautiful step that moves through many postures: Nat adavu 8
This is a long sequence, so I’m posting only 2nd and 3rd speeds:
Ta tey tey ta 3
A real thigh-burner!
Tey hat tey hi 3
Tat tey tam 5
Tat tey taha 3. This is the step that I’m sure gave me my lower-back pain! It used to be one of my favorites, and I still have a special feeling for this adavu. It’s also one of Kala’s signature steps, calling for as much of bending to each side as possible. My improper execution and lack of bodily understanding drove me to forcibly push my body into these side-bendings. Now I moved through it with more softness and awareness of my back:
Here was my final step for the day and one of my absolute favorites because of the light jumps and extension of arms and legs in opposite directions, Dalanku Adavu 4: