Where have I been? Well, the title of this post will give you a clue.
We have been blessed with a daughter, named Naimi Sharanya, born on August 8, 2013. Somehow, from the moment I discovered this blessing was happening to us, I felt intensely private. We didn’t disclose our news on FB or any other social media platform, and as my belly grew, that internal mood only intensified. Although some pregnant women continue all their activities like normal, it felt more natural to me to simply take a break from dance; my thoughts surrounded this little soul growing inside me, and I also was very aware of the constant changes in my body. It has been quite amazing to witness how my body changed and expanded to accommodate this growing life inside my belly (and afterwards, seeing the body shrink back close to its original size within weeks).
(By Jiva Photography)
Yet during this hiatus, my desire and determination to dance has only grown stronger , and now that I’ve recovered sufficiently from the delivery, I’m officially back and ready to rock-n-roll!
So I will begin where I left off, literally. In my last post “Choosing a Fresh Perspective,” I was on my way to Chennai, and I shared with you some of my thoughts and apprehensions about returning to my alma mater, Kalakshetra, a place that has so much influenced my life. Arriving newly pregnant in Chennai certainly overwhelmed my senses and put another spin to my experience there. Instead of getting to dance, I was an observer and facilitator (I was there with my student Gayatri, taking her to classes and dance performances). Hence I didn’t quite have the immersion that I’d thought I’d have or get answers to some of the questions I posed.
Yet to my surprise and delight, my apprehension around returning to Kalakshetra vanished as soon as I was there. I felt completely at home. I was warmly greeted by everyone I knew, and I remembered names and what little Tamil I knew
As I walked around Kalakshetra and observed the classes and rehearsals, I was awe-struck by the complete focus and dedication of the students and teachers. I watched in wonder the students put complete effort into each adavu-step, sweating, pushing the body beyond its limits. I could see the muscles quivering in a student’s limbs as he pushed himself to sit deeper into aramandi/plie. Sweat dripped down their bodies. commitment blazed in their eyes. As I sat there watching, a completely unexpected feeling came upon me – I knew that I once was this student! I have given my life-energy to these adavus! It was a beautiful feeling of complete satisfaction, an affirmation of the time and effort I have put into this dance-form, no regrets. It was like I suddenly realized and gave myself credit for investing all that time into this striking art-form.
(Photo from my first year. Seen in background, Aishwarya, one of my best friends)
On that note, I am sharing below my first step towards bringing dance back into my daily life again: Alaripu, often the first dance a Bharata Natyam student learns. I consider it evidence of the thorough training I received at Kalakshetra that I can stop dancing for nearly a whole year but still retain technique (Stamina is another monster altogether!):