One fine evening, when I returned home late after my weekend dance class, I was preparing myself to face my mother’s usual rants. I entered the living room as she exited the kitchen and the carping ensued. “Why do you have to dance? You have a career ahead of you!” she said, and continued, “Besides, now that you’re old enough to get married…you should dedicate your time to more meaningful life skills. Learn cooking instead.” I dismissed the whole conversation as a joke, giggled and left the room to end the argument.
I had always taken this impression of my mother being a progressive thinker for granted, considering she has been a single parent all along. Though the conversation didn’t really upset me but it compelled me to ponder about why people think that pursuing dance as a hobby is a waste of time, especially after a certain age.
In the past two years as a student of this art form, I have met the most interesting people in the dance classes who face the same dilemma. Ironically, these people have given me the most valuable life lessons. Be it the mothers who make their toddlers proud with their grooves on stage, blue collar professionals who dare to shed their mask while learning something new, group artists who understand different sorts of dispositions to put up a great show together, elderly couples who bond with each other while trying to understand musicality together– different set of people have different dance stories to tell.
“You have no clue how much I wait for these classes all throughout the week. The inspiring people here, the interesting moves, the music gives me such a high! I don’t mind sneaking out of the home to get a breath of fresh air here,” a friend had once confided to me. Having known her for more than a year, I could understand what she meant. Being a home-maker, it is a full-time job for her to juggle between kids, husband, in-laws, and social life. Dancing is of course more than a hobby for her.
One of the most passionate learners that I have met, P, is another inspiration in her own right. Of the ten million things that give a testimony of her love for dance, one of the most interesting examples is that she never misses a class for any reason- Be it for work, family or even health issues. An epitome of flexibility, people often joke that she is always so charged up that she can even dance without music.
Her relentless efforts helped A overcome several health problems as she gradually became a fitter and stronger person. She is another dance mate who leads by example ‘literally’. Her fat pay cheques do not distract her and she unfailingly dedicates her weekends for the shows and performances that do not help her earn money, but satisfaction.
Dance is no less than a therapy for all these people. It no less than an addictive drug for them, albeit, a drug that does no harm.
An instructor once while addressing the batch confessed how he experienced a personality transformation, and gradually a life transformation, as a dance student. From being a coy guy next door, he had become a confident dancer aspiring for more. Another instructor, in a candid conversation, made a mention of struggles he goes through as a professional dancer. “At times the body gives up. But the soul doesn’t. There’s nothing quite like getting a dance move right after hundred attempts,” he said.
These anonymous faces are still traversing the chosen path to reach their goals. But they all are pretty sure that their quest of identity will be resolved only by dancing away to glory. They might be masters of different styles, but what’s common between them is when they perform, the heartfelt smile on their faces makes others smile in return. Their fearlessness motivates others to shed inhibitions.
‘Let go’ (while doing fierce moves), ‘Don’t give up’ (even if you don’t get the routine despite repeated attempts) , ‘Smile all along’ (as a performer) and most importantly- ‘Have the heart of the child’ (and shed inhibitions) – all these ‘instructions’ ring in my ears even when I work, even when I wage daily life battles, even when I am not dancing.
Probably, the concerned mothers, spouses, friends, who are intrigued by the question – ‘Why people dance, especially after a certain age?’ need to understand the depth of the motto – “It is more important to enjoy the journey and not bother about the destination” (something that dancers hear repeatedly when they have to go on stage so that they complete their dance moves gracefully and not just rush to finish the dance step).