Bharatanatyam – Something that I had been fascinated by ever since I was little. But never thought to ask my parents for lessons. Not that anything in my genes said “dance”. I didn’t know of a single cousin or aunt that had learnt Bharatanatyam. And indeed, at that time, it was sort of looked down upon in v. conservative households such as mine – “Are you going to be dancing when you are an adult and running a household of your own? Learn paatu, that would be more useful at least”. But that interest lingered. As did that wistful feeling when I watched some amazing performances by my schoolmates.
When I got to grad school in Atlanta, and my friend V offered a Bharatnatyam class as part of Tech’s “Options” program, I (literally) jumped at the chance. Enjoyed several sunday afternoons in dance class – and practice sessions full of missteps with R – and gave one performance where I was both Rama and an elephant (don’t ask).
Moved to NJ and started work soon after, and dance left my radar. Until I got pregnant and found out (after three ultrasounds of trying to find out, but that’s another story) that my baby’s a girl. My dance dreams popped right back up. I could see a pretty little girl in a green pattu pavadai and a red blouse (pretty vivid, no? all hormones) holding my hand, and walking with me happily to her dance lessons. Enrolled (latter day soccer-girl and violinist) little N in dance lessons when she was six and a half years old. Then, took a few years to develop decent parenting philosophy about not projecting self’s dreams and goals onto kids who didn’t necessarily feel the same way. And hung out quietly for a while. Three and a half years, to be exact.
Little A at six and half years of age (that magic number again!) asked for dance lessons back in June. My ears perked up. She had tried ballet for a session before and had loved it. Hmmm… perhaps it was time?
Signed up A in June for bharatanatyam lessons with a teacher who seems v. impressive and follows the Kalakshetra style. I was terrified after the first class – over two and a half hours of dance theory and learning to chant slokams and make hand gestures, and then starting to learn actual dance steps. I was personally freaked out with the humongous time commitment this implied (and a tad bored with all the theory, I’ll be honest with you). Little A cuddled her stuffed animal, and didn’t leave my lap that first lesson.
A handful of classes later. We are now veterans of the first two sets of adavus (although, not flawless – far from it, actually). The teacher, T, who’s not big on remembering names (especially modern ones like “Anika”), calls me Anki’s mom or Niki’s mom or whatever crosses her mind at the time. Since she calls out to me only when “Anki” is missing a step, it’s not good for anyone when I continue to talk to the other moms, and don’t respond to the borderline irate teacher.
Our formerly dedicated-to-chillaxing friday evenings are now PACKED. Well. N and little N go on dinner dates at these times to restaurants that picky me has vetoed (that would be ALL Thai and Chinese restaurants), so at least a part of the family continues the chillaxing tradition. Still, I am loving it. And more importantly, little A seems to be, as well. We’ll see how far we take this journey. And this time around, I am open-minded enough (sorry for the learning curve there, little N) to not push it if little A decides that she’s done.