India is an interesting country. Known for its natural beauty, a plethora of languages and cuisines, its addiction to Bollywood and intertwining cultural landscapes, India is not a country very keen on change. Yes, of course we are changing economically, progressing in our business, telecom and IT fields, but we are quite complacent when it comes to adopting global trends and sticking to them for long. The urban India might dabble in new things, just to try them out but the rest of the country is usually happy with what has been working for them for so many years.
One anomaly in this otherwise valid observation is dance. Having been pursuing dance for over a decade, I have always had a keen interest in dance and music trends. India has eight main classical dance forms such as Kathak, Bharatnatyam, Manipuri and Kathakali, whose origins can be traced back to 1st century A.D. These dances are performed in a theatrical manner, with the dancer almost enacting a story mostly with hand gestures and facial expressions. Classical dance is distinguished from folk dance because it has been regulated by the rules of the Natyashastra [rules of theater], and all classical dances are performed only in accordance with them. India also has numerous other folk dances such as Garba, Ghoomer and Bhangra which have their roots in religious and seasonal festivals. Usually performed in groups, they depict the daily work and rituals of village communities.
Modern dance in India has a relatively short history – about 40 years, and it is only during the past 10 years that contemporary dance such as jazz, hip hop and ballet have found popularity with the masses. Ballet in particular took some time to be accepted and appreciated as a dance form because of its intricate style and the years of training it requires. It is also far removed from the dance styles endorsed by the Indian pop culture and cinema.
The School of Classical Ballet & Western Dance, Mumbai, a 50-year-old institution founded by Tushna Dallas in 1966, promotes classical ballet and other western styles in pure forms, and is helmed today by her daughter, Khushcheher Dallas. It is an affiliate of the Royal Academy of Dance, London, as well as The Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance, UK. This institution has been endorsing ballet for decades now, and has been successful in receiving a mass appeal eventually. In appreciation of the dance form, and the tremendous hard work dancers put into their art, let’s list five reasons why ballet is good for you:
1. Ballet gives you the body of a supermodel
“Ballet is deceptively strong, aesthetically beautiful and uplifts the soul,” says Tushna Dallas. Long-term training, delivered correctly with technical soundness lends great core strength, and lengthened, lean limbs.
2. Ballet teaches discipline and perseverance
Pop culture often showcases ballerinas battling challenges and striving for perfection – behind that effortless triple pirouette or grand jete is a dancer’s body that has relentlessly trained, a mind that has focused on technique and spirit that accedes to commitment.
3. Ballet gives you courage and confidence
The art form relies on continual training that ultimately renders the audience stunned, while providing a therapeutic form of artistic expression on stage. Ballet draws on the beautiful oxymoron of contained strength and safe risks.
4. Ballet is the ultimate finishing school
Ballet emphasizes on both technique and poise. From perfect gait and carriage of the head and limbs to impeccable posture and grace, ballet leaves you with the poise of princess. Tulle tutus and tiaras are merely a finishing touch!
5. Ballet is a healer
Built on the pillars of awareness, focus, submission, acceptance and receptivity, ballet teaches you that excellence lies in the journey, not in the destination, and leads you to ultimate joy and freedom.
I am sure this is enough inspiration to join a dancing school right now!
*Note from the editor: Nidhi Thaker is a junior at Clark University, and this is her first blog article on The Things That Matter! Welcome to the crew, Nidhi!