I loved Saturday nights at my boarding school. Saturday evenings after supper was the “recreation time”. All the girls (8th std onwards) got together in the school hall or the “rec. hall” as we called it on Saturday evenings, music would be turned on and we would spend the next two hours swinging and grooving to the music. We jived, waltzed and discoed, invented our own versions of fox-trot and cha-cha, copied the moves of dancing stars and later when MJ and his ‘Thriller’ arrived on the scene he had all of us girls walking backwards. That was a period of my romance with ‘Dance’.
Time moved on. I went to the college, completed my education and then got married and became a part of a large joint family. My life was now centered around my husband, my family and my home. I thought my dancing days were over.
But then I got lucky and got a chance to put on my dancing shoes once again. My husband and I decided to take some dance lessons. Only now I was in my late thirties and not shaken a leg for over a decade and a half. On the first day of my class I was filled with apprehension and very conscious of my now overweight status amidst the slimmer ones. I was very sure that I wouldn’t be able to move let alone dance. Then they turned on the MUSIC…
That was 5 years ago. Now my class days are the high points of my week. No matter how tired I may be I always find the energy to dance. Have learnt a lot of dance moves over the years but some of the best lessons I got went beyond the dancing-
LESSON 1- Be comfortable with the person that YOU are–
As I mentioned earlier when I joined the class I was one of the oldest and the roundest persons in my batch.( I still am). I was deeply conscious about the way I looked and constantly compared myself to the other women/girls in the class. That prevented me from completely letting go and enjoy doing what I loved. After giving a great deal of thought I decided to come to terms with the person that I was- physically and in my heart. I sort of ‘liberated’ myself from the burden of being the person I seemingly wanted to be. And without that burden I began to truly enjoy myself and I believe made me a better performer. I was able to look at my mistakes and weaknesses more rationally and work on them comparing myself with only my former self.
LESSON 2- “Let’s Try”-
Sometimes when our instructors demonstrated steps that seemed (to me) impossible to perform or tried my hand …errr …legs at a new dance form, I would be filled with self doubt and my first reaction would be “how the hell am I going to do that?” but then I would say to myself “let me try” and more often than not , after about a week of working on it repeatedly, I would be doing it effortlessly. Powerful words those “let’s try”. They make you push your boundaries, make you believe in yourself and put up a fight against your own mediocrity. And I also learnt that its okay to give up if you are unable to do something AFTER having given your maximum effort. You are not a failure.
LESSON 3- Break up a problem-
This happens time and again. We would be shown a series of steps that involved a lot of twists and turns and going under and over the arms/legs of our partner and once again I would feel overwhelmed. But then our instructors would proceed to break the series up into small parts of about 4 counts or a bar(8 counts) and before long I would be performing like a pro (that’s just for saying. Nowhere near a pro) I do believe that this could be applied to a quite a few situations in life too. Would really solve quite a few of our problems.
LESSON 4- Face your fears-
I had plenty when I first joined. “am I doing it right?”, “am I looking funny doing this?” “is someone looking at me?” and such. All of this made me uncomfortable or pushed me into a shell. Facing the fears, one at a time, head on, simply by forcing myself to do what I’d rather avoid, made me aware that most of my fears were a figment of my imagination, that melted away once confronted. I’ve almost totally gotten over my stage fear or even speaking in front of an audience (so long as I know what I’m talking about) when I tackled them head-on. Have been applying the principle ever since and am able to constantly surprise myself.
LESSON 5- Mind is all powerful-
By this I mean that we tend to limit ourselves by underestimating our strengths, our abilities or even our own selves as a whole. But the mind is powerful. When it sets a goal for itself, surprisingly it can achieve that, physically or mentally. All we need to do is to have faith in ourselves and push ourselves that little bit more and set our mental meters that much higher, and we’ll be amazed what we can do.
By writing this I do not mean to say that I’m now perfect or I’ve arrived..no.. far from that. I’m still a work in progress. Everyday I face a new challenge, a new fear and have to constantly put my faith back in myself and the blessings of God, love and support of my family and friends are the pillars that hold up that faith.
So I hope and aspire to continue dancing not just at the classes but in life too till the curtains fall.