A dancer’s passion is a powerful force, it is what keeps them up late at dance rehearsals and also makes them get up early at the crack of the dawn for practice. A dancer’s determination and will is what pushes them out of their comfort zones and tests their limits with new styles, environments, and challenges. Dancers are relentless and inspire others to continue to follow their dreams, not even a pandemic can stop them.
Shovana Narayan, Kathak Guru & IAAS (retd), says: “Dance provides an outlet for the dancers to keep physically fit through their daily ‘riyaz’, irrespective of the pandemic situation. For us dancers, it is our daily offering, our prayer to the Lord. The more time afforded by covid-19 situation has seen a spurt in creativity which is evident in the number of online dance videos that have flooded social media. All may not be of similar standards for they range widely but what is more important that this has kept them mentally fit, alert and creative.”
Dance has many benefits for its practitioners
Dance as an exercise helps oil the body and the mind. It is not just a physical thing. The mind is free when the body is in motion. And that’s what is needed in such trying times when stress levels due to the covid situation have hit the roof. And one may not need to work out all the time—but just dance so that they feel good and enjoy the movement.
Yamini Reddy, a Kuchipudi danseuse, says: “Dancers by nature have to maintain their mental and physical strength in general. Covid-19 has given us the time to move out of our busy schedules of travelling and performing all the time.”
“Also, our Indian classical dance training has always been such that it helps us maintain our physical fitness and is not only performance oriented. Once the body is physically fit, it gives us mental stability too. The pandemic made us take a step back and rethink our working methods, relook at our art and think at new things that we can create. It has given us time and space to be more creative,” she adds.
Shovana says that passionate involvement in dance brings in its wake creativity which is evident through new compositions, both rhythmic and melodic, new choreographies for a new online medium, talks, interactive knowledge imparting sessions and imparting training to students across the globe.
The pandemic, it seems, has afforded career dancers a new lease on their artform
Staying healthy and productive at home seems to be one of the best things
a dancer can do for their career as stage performances take a backseat for some time.
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Adds Yamini: “Covid-19 provided us with the bandwidth to think of new subjects and this has kept us very happy mentally and our souls have been nurtured. Personally, I have been practising my dance form as often as possible. I have also taken up fitness classes to strengthen my body because as dancers we usually have wear and tear and have no time to take care of our bodies. I have transformed my diet and have included all things healthy. I make it a point to practise meditation for 15 minutes at least everyday for mental sanity.”
Many dancers modified their workouts to fit the confined spaces they are in — bedrooms, kitchens, even laundry spaces. Sessions often focus on targeted strength and technique training, revealing the immense amount of preparation that goes into a body before it gets moving.
Arshiya Sharma, salsa enthusiast, says: “Contrary to popular belief, salsa can be practised solo as well. Known as salsa shine, they show you are confident enough to dance without the rules of partner work, allows you to express in new ways, and generally increases the variety in your movements. I started with strength training, body isolation and lady styling during the pandemic, and all this solo!”
“Also, pandemic made me practise with my brother for the first time,” she narrates laughingly. The 21-year old adds: ” We adjusted the furniture of the house and practised. The thing with dancers is that they can make space anywhere.”
For Zumba enthusiast, Meenal Pathak, looking after her mental health has been of great significance. She says, “Covid-19 has encouraged a fear psychosis in many people and people have become scared. I used this time as an opportunity to look within, read all the books I had bought at some point in my life. I spruced up my home by giving away a lot of stuff and cleared space for new energy to enter.”
Dancing helps lift spirits, kill boredom, raise energy levels and maintains mental health. As self-isolation becomes the new normal, we hope these dancers inspire you to dance your way to a healthy life.