I wanted to be a professional Odissi dancer.
It was not some odd-ball, little girl fantasy. While other little girls wanted to be mommies, nurses, dancers and beauty queens, I would get a far-away look in my eyes and imagine myself decked-up in full Odissi-style splendour, dancing on stage before God, guru, family and friends.
There's a history there. I was learning ballet and tap in New York and having a blast learning both. When we moved to Bangalore, I remember being introduced to the gorgeously splendourful and entrancing world of Indian classical dance. While I was awed by them all, the Odissi performances captivated me the most. I felt like I was privy to the celestial dance of the apsaras and my heart was moved beyond measure.
Then and there, I decided that this was the path I was meant to follow. I sent Maa-Janoni on a wild quest to find a teacher or school for me where I could learn this art. But it was not meant to be. Bangalore was teeming with Bhartnatyam and Kathak classes, but not Odissi and I was stubborn in my refusal to learn anything else. Today, I regret my stubbornness, for had I learned either one of those dance forms, at least I would have been blessed with some form of dance in my life.
And then, the wonderful happened. Protima Gauri, my Odissi icon, opened Nrityagram. I was in the 8th grade. I wanted to leave everything and go there. I was serious. I sobbed, wailed, ranted and raved. I stopped eating for many days. Daddy Dearest was still living in New York in those days and my Maa-Janoni was at wit's end, trying to deal with me.
I never made it there. For a field trip, yes. For the yearly Vasant Habba celebrations, yes. But never as a student.
And it is the biggest regret of my life.
And Odissi still remains my life's biggest yearning.
Lately, the pull of the ghungroos and dancing beats has become too strong to ignore. I don't know whether I'm becoming pre-menopausal (I still have a couple of years to go before I hit my mid thirties, for cryig out loud!) or whether it's a mid-life crisis. But I do know this. I have to sign up for classes and learn. Even if it's for a year or six months. I know I'll never make it to the stage as a pro... I mean hey! At my age and bulk, who am I kidding?
But, I can still dance for me. And for the Gods.
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