Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Bliss of Devotion: Bharatanatyam

Bharatanatyam (bha-ra-ta-nat-yam) is an ancient Indian classical dance form. I have been trying to write a blog post about my love of this dance for years. Literally years - I have written several posts from years ago that are still in draft form.

And yet in writing this series on bliss, I knew that I needed to write about bharatanatyam. Maybe writing about my love of this art form is such a challenge because it's so close to my heart.

So I shall begin at where all great love stories begin - the moment the soul sets on fire. In my very first dance class at the age of 19, I knew I would be dancing this ancient art form for the rest of my life. Even when I faced foot surgery and was forced to stop my studies for two years, my fire never died.

The other part of my love story was when I donned my jewelry and dance costume for the first time. I transformed into a queen. It's not every day that a 21st century girl gets to be a queen.

When I wear the temple jewelry of a dancer and invoke the presence of the gods, I know that performing bharatanatyam is truly like no other experience on earth.

On the flipside, consider that hours, months, and years of a dancer's life are poured into those 10 (sometimes 20) minutes of a performance. I personally feel that there is no way for me to reach any level of excellence without experiencing utter devotion to God in my practice. I am always seeking the perfection in my lines, my movements, my expression, and yet I never, ever reach it. So humbling and so beautiful.

For me, there is simply no other reason to dance than to serve God, to offer my body, mind, and soul to Krishna.

I offer my love and respect to Anapayini dasi (front and center above, below), who is my dance guru, for without her the fire would not be burning within my heart. 

(watch this dance on youtube:

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