The Many Meanings of Dance

A very interesting YouTube video that I thought I must write about.

Dance is not just about artistic expression. It is also about empowerment and body-confidence. It can be a means of social activism and social change. And it can be a conveyor of the concept of border-lessness, like all forms of art.  These ideas are so well-communicated through this short snippet on the Kathak Dancers of Karachi.

There are many facets of this art-form that are not so well-known. Including the fact that in one way of looking at it, the rhythmic footwork (tatkaar) aligns to perfect mathematical symmetry. And you can deduce many intriguing patterns in the beats,  such as the Fibonacci number sequence. However, that is an entire topic, which even I need to research fully, and can be kept for another day.

I feel a bit wistful that Kathak, and many other Indian classical dances, are not so popular among today’s youngsters, as they could have been. But hopefully, there are a few flag-bearers and impassioned afficionados, who will keep the tradition going. I know today’s youth have many distractions, and my own daughter has shown little inclination to learn Kathak over Zumba, Salsa and Hip-hop. All these dance styles are charming too, but an appreciation of the ancient forms imparts a different sort of perspective. Along with the more “trending” dance styles, it would be good for today’s generation to keep in touch with their ‘heritage dances’, which have a history of hundreds of years. Tradition, not for the sake of it, but for the enrichment it provides.

On my own account, I am thankful for the exposure I got as a child. Incidentally, two of my main dance teachers, both women, were also masterful tabla players apart from being dance gurus. One of them even had a university degree in tabla. It is only later that I became aware that the tabla is perceived as a highly male-dominated instrument. It puzzled me why this was so. Because what I had seen and experienced had no correlation to the stereotype that was generally subscribed.  This was one of the influences which made me realize that popular notions of gender-fit can be questioned. Those teachers did not just school me in dance steps, they taught me lessons beyond that.

4 thoughts on “The Many Meanings of Dance”

    1. Shalini Shrivastav

      Yes – and she wore the badge quite lightly – seemed just natural at it and not even conscious that she was breaking any ‘taboo’ or ‘norm’.

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