Ramayana Reflection Series II

Posted on August 1, 2011 by


May 21, 2011 marked the Chhandam School of Kathak’s cornerstone school production – Ramayana.  The show featured over 350 students, live musicians from India, and appearances by the Chitresh Das Dance Company.  Students, parents, and participants took the time to share their experiences on the performance and being a part of the spectacular production.  Kathaka will be featuring these excerpts in a five part series.

Tanvi Seth, Age  16

Chhandam School of Dance for many students is not only a place to learn dance but also a life learning experience.

I joined this great school couple of years ago. On my first day my teacher had asked the students why we had joined the school. Hoping to make a good impression I told her the truth.  I told her that I only joined to improve on my dance skills so that I could be better at Bollywood dance. Now looking back I have learned so much more than just dance. I have learned proper elegance, etiquette and patience, and diligence –  something that one needs in order to survive in this competitive world.

To me, Kathak is like learning how to ride a new bicycle – once you have learned it there is no way you can forget. Kathak has become so embedded in my head that I find myself occasionally singing the hymns or finding myself suddenly doing footwork. Kathak has almost become my sixth sense.

I often hear from people the reason why they believe I do Kathak or any dance for that matter is to have an extracurricular activity. For me, dance, especially Kathak, is like meditation – it keeps you in balance. Without it I might not be where I am today.

I begin to wonder now and then as to what will happen when I have to go to college. Will I leave this dance or will I continue? Writing this article and truly understanding how much this dance really means to me I know that I will continue this dance for as long as I can. I will continue to do this dance no matter what obstacles come in my way.

For all the school performances I have been in, for all the great lessons I have learned, and for all the great memories I have of this school. I would not only like to thank our Guruji but also to all the teachers and parents who have put as my teacher would say, “their blood, sweat, and tears” into creating not only our Guruji’s dream, but the communities dream: The dream of spreading and continuing the great Indian Culture.

Vrushali, Adult Student

When Lord Shiva dances, He holds the entire cosmos in His spell. But does He consciously indulge the cosmos. No. The audience could hardly be of any concern to Him. He simply dances for Himself.

I often wonder if that isn’t the story of every performer who is true to the art. What more joy, than to sway to the rhythm of your own heart, in complete union with your body, mind, and soul. I pray that I should achieve that state of abandon, oblivious to my surroundings, oblivious to myself, in complete surrender to the divine that resides in me.

Indeed, participating in the magnificent Ramayana production awakened such strong emotions in me.

Performing in front of a live audience can be intimidating. Couple that with the knowledge that your act is interspersed with those of some of the most accomplished dancers of our times, resplendent and confident in the many years of their focused training. It can be an overwhelming experience indeed, and it surely was. However, what could have easily transformed into a daunting task for many of us, turned out to be quit enjoyable as a collaborative effort. It was an evening of immense joy, newly forged friendships and camaraderie. We were fortunate to have such wonderful supportive volunteers – parents, friends and acquaintances alike who literally gave a part of their lives to enrich ours. It was a heartwarming reminder of the unspoken bonds that we share, our inherent nature to nurture, protect, and promote.

This is primary sentiment that the association with my fellow Ramayana participants and volunteers kindled in me.

I thank our most gracious, immensely talented and devoted teachers, Doli di, Anita di, Preeti di, Rachna di, and so many others who worked tirelessly on us, with us, and for us.  We were fetching on stage simply because of their patience and guidance and I sincerely acknowledge their painstaking efforts throughout the months leading to the production – the preparation, the practice, and the final performance.

Above all, a humble and heartfelt Namaskar to dear Dadaji, for his magnificence, for his vision and for his blessings.

The beauty of life lies in recognizing that each one of us is special and unique in his or her  own way, a child of the universe. I haven’t always believed this to be true, especially when times run rough and hours fall short in a day, it is all too easy to forget. On the other hand, there have been moments when I have felt truly blessed and cherished for the opportunities I have been presented with, the very gift of education, sound health, and for my life itself.

The Ramayana was one such memorable occasion for me.