I finally have a dance teacher again.
When I was a kid, our community occasionally practiced a dance they called abhinaya. I later learned that it was watered down bharatnatyam, a classical Indian dance. For us it was about practicing focus because there is a strong emphasis on the deliberateness of every movement, including where the eyes are looking.
In elementary school a girl in my class performed a bharatnatyam dance for a talent show and I was mezmorized. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. But I thought I couldn't do that because she was Indian and I was not.
In college I wanted a dance that I could do solo without needing to drag my boyfriend to it. I remembered seeing that girl dance and decided not to worry any more about not doing something because I wasn't Indian.
I found a teacher and began to study bharatnatyam. It is an ancient dance and it is used to tell stories about the gods. It is an exercise as well as a religious experience.
Last year I moved to a new state and had to leave my dance teacher behind. I've been looking for a new one ever since.
It can be very difficult to find these things because they really don't advertise much on the Internet. It's word of mouth and you have to be taped into the Indian community.
I finally had a breakthrough when I went to dinner at an Indian restaurant and the owner saw me copying a name from a bulletin board. He asked what I was looking for and gave me a couple of names and a phone number for classical dance teachers.
I called the number right away and the woman was beyond startled to hear from me. She wanted to know what my interest in Indian dance was. I don't know if she thought I wouldn't be dedicated to it or what. I stumbled through a not very coherent explanation and I told her that I had done it before for two years. She was going to India and told me to call her when she got back.
When she got back I called and she didn't answer. I left three messages over the next two weeks and she never called back.
I was so hurt. I wished I had an Indian name because it seemed to me that she would have taken me more seriously if I did.
But I tried the other name on the card and it led me to a list of several teachers. I contacted five of them and only one responded. However, she responded that she would be happy to teach me and I went to her house yesterday to show her what I knew so she could place me in a class.
She's going to be a great teacher for me. She critiqued little details that will make my dancing so much crisper. And I didn't realize how out of shape I have gotten over this past year!
She actually has adult classes, which is great. I was used to being the only adult in a group of little girls because this dance is to Indians like ballet is in the west: it's the dance that all little girls do and most eventually outgrow.
I'm so happy to be dancing again. Especially because I've just experienced a devastating personal loss and the dance is a deeply religious experience for me.