A look back, a look forward
I didn’t plan to take a hiatus for the month of December, but as John Lennon sang, life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.
I realized a couple of days ago, with a bit of surprise, that this time last year, I was waiting earnestly to see if I would be accepted at the University of Silicon Andhra’s masters program in Kuchipudi. Now, I’m half-way through the course, and shaping ideas for my thesis. The ride here has been hard work, but joyful.
That decision to join the program has been a catalyst for a lot of other change, both directly and indirectly.
It gave me the confidence that I know what I know, and that I have good instincts. Honestly, some of the ideas I’ve written about on this site have been concepts I’ve been toying with for years, but I never would have dared put them in public sphere. I don’t know that I would have dared bring it up in a discussion either, at least not before this course. I can see that growing confidence as I watch videos of my dance from across the year, as well. If you told me this time last year that I would be performing sanchari extemporaneously to live music and rehearsal-free, I would not have believed you.
It has given me access and a glimpse into an incredible world of academia. I’ve always known about the nava rasas, but to trace through the evolving ideas of rasa through changing perspectives as scholars across centuries was incredible. Learning and re-learning about the core concepts of dance with the perspective of history has been eye-opening. It has shown how this art is not only some static practice of divine origins that has been passed down, but a vibrant, living, breathing (but still, very divine) practice.
It has forced me to venture into aspects of dance that I would not have for a long time otherwise - the choreographic process, picking up the nattuvangam talas.
There is a certain comfort in maintaining the status quo - to say, I can do what I can do, and that’s all I can ever be; to say, “if I had more time to practice, if I were in a different situation, if I were a little bit taller, if I were a baller…” and so on, and stay stagnant. There’s risk in being open to opportunities, to being vulnerable, and to daring to aspire. This year was a constant tug-of-war for me between staying content and pushing myself. What is the bar I hope to set for myself in dance? How high do I hope to reach?
This coming year, I am going to keep leaning in. More practice, more confidence, consistent writing. Not just in understanding and analyzing dance, but also, dancing. And singing. And being.
It feels especially important, with a young kid at home. I want him to be surrounded by arts, to feel they are beautiful and purposeful and accessible. I want them to be a fabric of his daily life. And I don’t want to sow seeds of self-doubt in him, and have those seeds take root in him like they have in me.
I’ve got my thesis and final project, as well as a handful of courses ahead of me. I’ve committed to practicing with more purpose and rigor, as well as to re-apply myself to music as well.
I want to record my practices and be proud of what I see. I want to dance with abandon and certainty. I want to sing again.
And, I’d love for you to join me along for the ride, right here.
Happy New Year!