Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Lessons from the dance class

My daughter goes to learn Kathak. I wasn't very enthusiastic about the classes at the beginning. No, don't get me wrong. I am all for arts. I love dance and music myself and I always have wanted that my children should learn to do something amazing with their bodies and I think dance makes for a great starting point.

Neither am I one of the few who would scoff at the cultural heritage of the country or someone who preferred the western ways more. I am a mother of two, aged 9 and 2 and when she announced she wanted to learn kathak, I just did not have it in me to take her for a weekly class, some 5 kms away from my house.

My reluctance also arose from the fact that previous such endeavours (I started her on Bharatnatyam when she was 4/5). The weekly class had become a thorn in my side. She would not want to go to that class which was happening almost next door. She would cry and cry till the time I threw my hands in despair and gave up. It must have been some 8 classes spread over the time period of two months. But I still shudder to think of the torture those were. To both of us.

So, very reluctantly I started to take her to these Kathak classes, fearing every time that this would be her last class. Yesterday she completed 12 months aka 1 year of those classes and my heart swelled with pride at this achievement. My take back from this extensive (I can call it that, right?)exercise is this:

1. Time: Children need time. We need time.

Everyone takes time.

The child needs to figure out what she likes. It is very unfair to make her do what you like/d but did not get a chance to pursue. Of course, that does become a starting point. I belong to a village and now live in a cosmopolitan city. I never had the opportunities that kids have these days. So I yearn and hope that they make the most of it. Learning to dance has always been on my agenda err for my kids but I had to give her time to figure out what she likes. Yesterday this bunch of girls in the kathak class did taals, bols and a very fast routine which took my breath away and I was teary eyed just to see my child come this long way. All this took the aforementioned Bharatnatyam class, a lot of heartache, a year (probably) with a western music teacher and some random dance shows in the apartment complex every year on the Durga Puja.

I should have taken time to choose a class for her. As parents we rarely stop and analyse what we are doing, the decisions we make. The Bharatnatyam class used to take place in a dimly lit room on the top floor of an old house. There were a lot of girls and the youngest ones were made to stand at the back in the last row. I never gave consideration to these things while dragging my daughter to that class. When I very reluctantly entered this Kathak class, my eyes opened up. Literally. There were many girls here as well but somehow it was better managed. Two well-functioning tube lights made a lot of difference I think.

2. Its a wonderful feeling to belong: Group activities are a great way to meet people. They are also a great way to get a sense of belonging. Netra loves her group of girls she meets once a week at the Kathak class. A few months back, in preparation of the annual concert of the dance school, they were doing this one routine, in which she kept forgetting a certain step. Then one girl from her group signalled her to follow her lead and Netra could eventually do her part well. This happened in a matter of seconds. The kids exchanged a glance or two and all was sorted. This kind of camaraderie happens when you become involved with some thing to a large extent. The girls developed their own language and an understanding; and its a wonderful thing. This sense of belonging to someone or with someone is something people keep looking forever. This is an important sense to gather in the growing years. I think it gives us roots as well as wings.

3.Learn an amazing thing or two about yourself: This might have happened with Netra or might not have. If it hasn't I am sure it will or maybe at a subconscious level this has helped her learn something about herself, of what she is made of. When I was seeing these girls, between the age of 6 to 14, I spinning fast to the dance sir's count, I was thinking someone will just give up. Someone will just sit down, tired and exhausted. No one did. Not the youngest joinee, not the girl who had been coughing on and off during the class, neither did my daughter who is not too big on physical strength. They might not have grasped how amazing they were yesterday but I am sure this will be some sort of firm ground from where their better moves will take off someday. And I think this will be more than just about their physical strength.


I just hope I haven't spoken (written in my case) too early.