From a young age, I was always interested in doing things with my body. I was incredibly energetic and loved to run, dance, sing and make things.
The freedom you face when growing up gradually begins to diminish when you age and you start to realise the nature of modern adulthood sets in. There’s a correct way to be, a correct way to talk and things to say. And trust me, I am incredibly good at putting my foot in my mouth.
Thus, when aging, there’s a desire to remove the things we see as play and replace them with the more realistic activities like doing our taxes, leaving very little time to do things we might see as enjoyable. Excuse me to the auditors of the world – your passion for tax fuels excitement in me that the human race is incredibly diverse.
But of course, we can’t do our taxes every day so really what should we do with the time we wish to spend fuelling our soul.
For those inclined to participate in a community faith, there is a great deal of importance on finding yourself and peace with yourself. In a sense, the idea of play is also about finding peace in a happy place with yourself even if it’s a mental space, not a physical one. Others may seek sanctuary in the presence of the wilderness, the company of numbers or even the ambiguity of words – each their own understanding of their unique play requirements. For me, I found my peace in the mixture of movement and music. This didn’t develop over the course of a minute but has created a deep respect for the history of the art form in which I was trained.
I began my dance career in ballet, to a strict Russian woman who would take any form of slackness in the dance studio.
I then dabbled into some Indian classic arts before starting a strict track in Bharatanatyam in 2007. Bharatanatyam is an old art form beginning in the temples of South India – in Tamil Nadu.
The artform, performed as a dance is a devotion to the gods with different dances telling stories from Indian mythology about God’s and as a commentary on human nature.
In June I performed my Arangetram – the first solo performance a student does that transitions them from student to the professional dancer. The performance is 3 hours long and is a physical and mental marathon. This transition is not just one of achievement but also the intellectual change that emerges from delving so deeply into an art form with so much history. Delving into the history of the stories of Indian mythology and discovering the intricacies of the art form, from eye movements to the whole body bending. This is my play.
I have dabbled in some Bollyheels classes – and the video is the one my father shows in pride more than my Arangetram photographs. My father does take great pride in me if you’re wondering why he’s showing strangers my photo. I think another reason is that it is often quite obvious to others when someone has found their faith – their area for pure bliss, for play.
Bharatanatyam is a strict art form – there is a correct portrayal of the movements and they’re incredibly rigid. The art form combines hand, leg, foot, eye and eyebrow movements before even considering the story you’re telling through your face. It was through the strictness of this artform, understanding it’s intricacies that I developed an appreciation for the small features that distinguish good dancers from great dancers. It was also through these intricacies that I found myself, through the enjoyment of mastery of complexity.
Mark Manson identified an important aspect of the human condition. Though we often associate depression with sadness, depression is often the absence of meaning in a situation.
So I encourage you now to find your faith, find something you can do which removes you from others and is your form of play. This will be your salvation when there may not be anyone else to fuel your fire.