Thursday, June 9, 2011

Chasing a Dream - Part 1

"Plea, passe, kick, passe again, and then you put the foot down"

Our dance instructor, Shweta, yelled as she walked around the class, observing everyone like a hawk. I love our instructor, she had acquired the perfect balance in every aspect of teaching - strict yet understanding, funny yet serious, confident yet humble. She's also very inspiring. At the age of 23, she left her high flying job as the HR manager in an MNC to pursue dancing.

Yet, she scares me to death.

I checked my feet again to see if they're in parallel, if my legs were in a proper plea and if my passe looked messy as she came around behind me. I know we learn slowly, and perfection cannot be attained overnight, but the adamant part of my brain always orders me to be overly harsh on myself. Especially when my instructor is around. Especially because, she's the one whose going to promote me to the next level. 

We were doing a lyrical jazz routine this month. The pace was semi-quick and there were various extensions placed at different points of the song. Shweta told us that the extensions were the main part and everything else was mainly filler and was meant to prepare us for the extensions. After a few classes, I realized that I was pretty good at the filler part and sucked at the extensions. Each time I stretched my leg towards the ceiling, I looked like an imbalanced Kung Fu Panda.

I'm quite flexible but I struggle a lot when it comes to balancing oneself in a particular position. I always:

1) Fall down
2) Wobble like a jelly to find my center.
3) Shake my hands around me like I'm drowning. 

I'm struggling right now too. Shweta noticed me hopping around like a madman and walked towards me.

"You need to squeeze your thighs and hips together when you're in a passe position, it helps you to place your weight in your center", she said as she lifted up my arms and tried to straighten my back. I nodded stupidly and tried to follow her instructions. It worked for a second and then I was back to my wobbly self again.

We continued to practice the routine for the remaining part of the class. At the end of it, I was only 0.1% better. 

We gathered around Shweta outside the studio after the class had ended, for a 5 minute chat session. It was a ritual that we followed. After the class got over, everyone was supposed to pick their stuff up and talk to the instructor about that day's class. 

"So guys, do you like this month's routine?", she asked in a cheerful voice. She transforms herself into a completely different person outside the studio.

Everyone murmured a soft 'yes', as though it would camouflage their real sentiment towards the routine. Shweta looked at us and grinned, "I know it's a little tough but you'll get used to it. It's just been 3 classes so far. You need to realize how important extensions are in lyrical jazz"

Again, everyone nodded but hardly seemed convinced. Shweta shook her head lightly and moved on to another topic, "Anyway, so there's an important announcement. As you all know, the summer workshop is approaching and it will begin in two weeks. Registrations are open now and you can come to either me or the studio manager to register yourself"

As though someone had just turned on a yellow light bulb, everyone's faces switched from sulky, tired expressions to 'yay-fun-time!' expressions in a split second. A soft buzz grew within the group, which soon escalated to a loud chatter. Workshops are indeed, fun times. We're taught a choreography which we ultimately go and perform on stage. It's a huge event because all batches, levels and classes perform and there's always a large audience (mostly parents) who come to watch the show. 

I had so far been in one workshop and it had really helped me evolve, both as a dancer and a person. God only knows, my fear of the stage was almost palpable before I performed. Even on the day of the performance, I was shivering like an old typhoid patient who had just walked out of the ICU.

We asked a few more basic questions, and then slowly started dispersing. As I was walking towards the main gate, I thought of the wonderful two months that lay ahead. IF I took part in the workshop. And then I thought of my parents. My hopes plummeted. They were already quite pissed with me, due to my grand revelation. I don't think they'd allow me to participate again.

I had almost reached the main gate when someone called out my name, "Shruti!", I turned around to see a boy in my class, I forgot his name, striding towards me. I looked at him confusedly, 'Yeah?"

"Shruti, right?"

I rolled my eyes, "Yep"

He grinned, "You're going to be promoted soon"

Something in my stomach just did a somersault, "How do you know?"

"I just heard Shweta discussing a few names with our co-instructor. She said you, Neha, Rajat and Meera, might get promoted after the workshop"

Before I could help it, my face broke into a huge, toothy smile and I almost jumped, "Finally! About time. I've been in this batch for almost a year now"

I thanked him for giving me the information and with the smile still plastered on my face, walked out of the main gate. But, suddenly a thought struck me. If Shweta said I might get promoted after the workshop, that means I will have to participate in it in order to finalize the promotion. 

I will have to convince my parents now. At any cost. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Chasing a dream - prologue.

Hello everyone! Wozzup? It's been a long time since I wrote anything and it feels great to be back to writing :)  I hope you all like this story. Dance has become a very important part of my life and perhaps the greatest inspiration too. Enjoy and please don't forget to leave comments! :D


"I want to be a professional dancer"

My parents gaped at me with incredulous eyes. I knew this moment would not be easy to go by. The planning for this confrontation had been underway for almost a month now. I tried to imagine all the possible reactions that this piece of news would conjure from my parents. Almost a billion different scenarios came up.

Scenario # 1

"What?! Are you out of your mind? Do you even know what you're talking about? And where did this idea come from anyway? You were dead set on doing architecture a few months ago. Everything was planned. And now this? Dance is your hobby Shruti, you can't make it your profession. It's full of risks. Where is the scope? Have you forgotten that you're living in India? Where are the avenues? The means? This is just impossible.."

So on and so forth.

Scenario # 2

Her parents looked at each other and burst into fits of laughter.

"Shruti, this is really funny but this is hardly the time for a joke..."

Scenario # 3

Her father's eyes almost popped out of their sockets and the next second, he was clutching the left side of his chest tightly. Her mom rushed to his side before he could fall down.

"Shruti, call the ambulance, NOW!"

Scenario # 4

"What? But you can hardly dance. I mean, just because you can do a few steps on Munni and Sheila doesn't mean you can become a professional dancer. Wake up and smell the coffee beta. Go study for your entrance"

And they went back to doing what they had been doing before this conversation - Her mom, watching TV and her dad, getting bored.

Scenario # 5

Her big confrontation given a royal ignore.


"How much would you earn? I mean, do dancers earn well?", asked her dad.

Now it was my turn to gawk. Was that it? Was that the only issue that I would have to face? I didn't know what to say. Lying is a nice idea but my overbearing and annoying conscience would not let me live peacefully. Money was good in the field of dance, only if you were a good enough dancer. And by 'good enough', I mean really good.

I shook my head lightly, "Um, yes dad. I mean, it's decent initially, but as I become better the money will become better too"

"How decent...exactly?"

"Uh, well, the instructors get paid around 50K per month, and you get an increment once you're in the company", I was trying to hold this conversation together, but truth to be told, I was freaking out.

"But the economics still don't beat those of architecture, do they?", my mom spoke for the first time. I really wish she hadn't, though.

"They don't mom, but it's not that bad either. Look, this is what I want to do. When I joined classes a year ago I didn't know that dance would end up becoming my passion. Maybe I just never gave it a thought before, maybe I never thought I had the talent, maybe I never thought of it as anything more than a hobby. Whatever it was, I don't know. But what I do know is that dance is where my heart lies", I finished and let out  a huge breath. I realized that my speech was nothing but babbling.

They started staring at me with that unidentifiable expression again. I hated it when they did that. It was like standing in a witness box like a defendant and waiting for the judge to announce the decision. My impatience was increasing with every passing moment and I wanted them to spit their thoughts out really fast now.

My dad finally opened his mouth, "We'll think about it", and both of them walked away.

My shoulders slumped. That was not what I had expected. Each of my scenarios ended with a definite 'yes' or 'no'. There was absolutely no room for a 'maybe'. That word was like a ticking bomb. I also suddenly realized how smart my parents had been. They could now easily persuade me to do whatever they wanted on a daily basis, all because they now had the control to swing the decision of my life in any way.

This was a disaster.

I didn't know for how long their 'thinking' session would go on, but I knew that I couldn't let my determination waver. At exactly 4 pm, my eyes darted towards my wrist watch. It was time for my class. I smiled. It was time to go back home.