International Dance Day: Passionate, Spiritual and Rebellious Humanly art of Dance
On the occasion of International Dance Day, we celebrate the spirit with which ritual of Dance has evolved worldwide.
“Dance is the hidden language of the soul of the body” that’s what Martha Graham, American Modern dancer claimed. Maya Angelou said, “Everything in the universe has a rhythm. Everything dances.” You see both are resonating the same sentiment. Thus, Rhythm is the manifestation of our souls and dance is a form of our engagement with it.
Talking about the Jazz being an American dance form, dancer Isadora Duncan said “it seems to me monstrous that anyone should believe that the jazz rhythm expresses America. Jazz rhythm expresses the primitive savage.” Rightly so Jazz is not an expression of American identity it traces its history back to Africa. But then her calling it an expression of primitive savage is not the result of colonial hangover rather she is alluding to the uncorrupted, unbridled and instinctive passion that is not part of Americas’ commercial melting pot. Dance is associated with passion and also with the divine. Especially in cultures like India, Dance meant more than mere entertainment, it was and is still practiced as a ritual and not just a performance. Ritual which is not hollow but ingrained in the ancient Indian philosophy of divine, of creation and of union with the cosmos.
It is the epic, which finds resonance in the divine and the devil. India is known for its Classical dance forms, which has a history of more than 4000 years and is sustained through practice of disciplined adherence to a certain sense of life, wherein dance is an expression of life itself. If you ever go to watch a Kathak or Bharatanatyam performance, you will see that even before the music starts the artist bows down touching the ground and then greets the audience with namaskara.
Today, in India we have a fertile ground for different dance forms- Indian Classical, Indian Folk, Western Classical, Fusion, new dance forms, improvisations of older dance forms and so much more. We have for generations served the gods, who expressed their fury, passion and divine being in language of dance. If one visits ancient temple grihas in any part of India, they are more likely to find the paintings of gods and their disciples indulging in this passionate art rather than having engraved sermons of any sort.
On the occasion of International Dance Day, We need to contemplate on the commercialization of this spiritual indulgence. The sanctity of this art is jeopardized in some parts but still manages to stun you every time. I watched a Mohiniyattam performance recently and was left speechless as divine enchantress took control of Amrita (nectar of immortality) by seducing the Asuras and distributes it to the Devas. You can watch the movie Mohiniyaattam, directed by Sreekumaran Thampi in 1976, lead actor Lakshmi won the Filmfare Award for Best Malayalam Actress for her performance.
In the recent years we have seen a few dance based movies in Remo D'Souza's direction- Any body can Dance 1, Any body can Dance 2 and his upcoming movie Street Dancer. His films have reintroduced the art of dancing with was on decline from 90's on wards. Dance has come to express the desires, frustration and dreams of the youth of today, who see it the means of rebellion.
Thus, dance is an art of humanly shades of existence and celebration of everything that makes one in the first place. You may not have trained Kathak from Pandit Birju Maharaj but the rhythm is lost on you. This perception and consciousness makes you sensitive to the ritualized practice of dance in its various renditions.
Meet the author
Hey this is Anjali Shukla. I am pursuing my masters in English and Cultural Studies at Christ University. I am a movie buff and a classic nerd. When it comes to picking holidaying options I am quite satisfied with good chinese takeout and my movie hard drive or my mini library with a generous supply of books. I love travelling as it is a default hobby of having your father serving in the air force. I am interested in reading Philosophy especially that of existentialist philosophers like Nietzsche and Jean Paul Sartre.
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10 July 2019