Rekindling the Rhythms of Bharatanatyam: Rediscovering My Passion After 18 Years

Rekindling the Rhythms of Bharatanatyam: Rediscovering My Passion After 18 Years

Returning to the enchanting world of Bharatanatyam after an 18-year hiatus has been an incredibly soul-stirring journey, one that has not only reignited the flames of my childhood passion but has also symbolized a personal triumph over societal stereotypes and self-limiting beliefs. For some, this might not be a big accomplishment, but for me yes, it is! So, I deserve all the right to celebrate.

Growing up in Erode, Tamil Nadu, my earliest memories were intertwined with the rhythms and expressions of Bharatanatyam. Under the guidance of a dedicated Sister-Brother duo, I was enveloped in the mesmerizing world of dance. Their home was a sanctuary for aspiring artists, nurturing talents without discrimination. Here, I delved into the diverse facets of Bharatanatyam – the Adavus, Alaripu, Thillana, and the captivating Thambalam dance, which held a special place in my heart. The focus was purely on art, and I imbibed the essence of this dance form with reverence and joy.

My journey was peppered with unforgettable performances at temple festivals and celebratory events across Tamil Nadu. One pivotal memory etched in my heart was playing the role of God Murugan in the dance drama “Surasamharam” at the Salem Steel Plant. The overwhelming praise and support from my mentors and fellow dancers made me feel like I had won an Oscar. I loved to dance when I was young. I would rather dance than be in class learning plant families or Organic Chemistry. I did not know my worth then. I wish being a dancer as a career was a choice then (20+ years ago) I did not know. I was forced to take the subjects that I did not like. I vow to not repeat the same with my children. I applaud all the girls and Women who are pursuing being a dancer as their career or the career they want and stand up tall for the choices they make.

Despite the accolades in dance, societal pressures imposed a different narrative. My enthusiasm for the arts was dismissed as a distraction from academics. The prevalent notion that only professions like medicine or engineering mattered overshadowed my artistic dreams. The lack of guidance and encouragement toward my passion left me grappling with unfulfilled aspirations. I am also not sure why I stopped dancing which I loved the most.

Amidst these societal constructs, life took unexpected turns, and I found myself navigating the labyrinth of a marriage that ultimately led to divorce. This transition, though challenging, served as a catalyst for reevaluation and rediscovery.

The opportunity to perform again after 18 years surfaced unexpectedly at a picnic cookout. Thanks to my dear friend Rita, who has been my pillar of support. Embraced warmly by a group of individuals, I was invited to showcase my classical dance skills at the Aantorik Sacramento’s (California) Durga Puja celebration. With a resounding “yes” and a heart filled with determination, I embarked on a rigorous journey to choreograph and prepare for the event.

A supportive dance partner, Arunima, and the unwavering encouragement from a dear friend, Barnali Di, played significant roles in this revival. Despite the whirlwind of life’s commitments, we dedicated ourselves to practice, creating a performance that was a testament to our dedication and passion.

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The event marked my return to dance and served as a lesson to my children. It conveyed that dreams have no expiration date, and that determination knows no boundaries. It was an empowering moment, showing them that their Amma is capable of pursuing her passions at any stage of life.

This artistic journey signifies a form of self-care—a renaissance of my true self. With immense gratitude to those who believed in me, I continue this unimpeded odyssey with a heart full of determination. There’s an unspoken promise to myself: this time, nothing will hinder my artistic pursuit.

In the cadence of Bharatanatyam, I’ve found not just a dance form, but a passage to self-discovery, resilience, and unwavering passion. I may not be that fit like I was so many years ago or I may not have been practicing Bharatnatyam for all these years as life got me through very tough challenges. But this is a start! I want to practice more and relearn the art yet again. No one is stopping me now!

This is not just a return to dancing; it’s a renaissance of the spirit—proof that creativity knows no bounds and dreams have the power to transcend time.

May the rhythm of my dance echo the unwavering strength within us all, inspiring others to rekindle their passions and pursue their dreams with relentless fervor.


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