Monthly Archives: September 2015

What Dancing Means to Me

What Dancing Means to Me

From the age of four, I have been learning the renowned art form of the Indian Classical dance style, Bharatnatyam. At first I did not realize the value it would have in my life, but today, I could not be more grateful that my parents enrolled me in the Vedanta Dance Academy at such a young age. Just like most young dancers, and most children in general, I was clumsy and lacked the grace dancers need to execute a successful performance. However, I persevered and eventually that phase passed. I continued learning dance throughout the years and it was always my favorite outlet. It seemed that when everything else was continuously changing in my life, dance was my constant, my haven, and my passion.

At the age of thirteen I was finally ready to give my solo graduation dance performance, known as an Arangetram, which is a three hour long dance debut in which a dancer gives his/her graduation performance that not only marks the end of the amateur phase, but also marks the beginning of a whole new journey filled with opportunities to perform as a certified “expert”. In order to prepare for this tedious, but definitely fulfilling event, I was required to practice a minimum of five hours a day for two months to improve my dexterity in dance. Over time, I was able to build up my endurance, grace, and technique to cumulatively create synergy and ultimately perform with utmost elegance and precision. Performing evoked a feeling unlike any other and it was one of those indescribable moments when I truly felt like there was no one else in the world and reality was composed of just the dance floor and me.

Aside from the performances, dance has also given me many other benefits. It has allowed me to make life-long friends and memories that I will forever cherish and it has taught me to be disciplined, respectful, and passionate. Furthermore, dance has ensured that I never forget where I came from. As Bharatnatyam originates in India, this art form in particular helps connect me to my roots. From the age of five I have been dancing in cultural shows held at our local temple with styles ranging from Bollywood fusion to Bharatnatyam and those shows hold some of my best memories.

I hope that my dance memories continue as I proceed on my dance journey here at Penn State. I have joined two dance teams here at college as my method of decompression. I have joined the Indian Classical team called Penn Natya and the Bollywood fusion team called JaDhoom, both of which compete with other collegiate dance teams across the country. In the midst of all the chaos that comes with college life, dance serves as my stress reliever so joining these dance teams will definitely serve as my nonacademic getaway. Dancing allows me to take a break from reality and get lost in the music as my thoughts drift away into nothing but happiness.

Physical Benefits of Dancing

Physical Benefits of Dancing

The benefits of dancing are endless, especially when it comes to the physical aspects of this art. Regardless of the style of dance, whether it is ballroom, ballet, zumba, hip-hop, or the salsa, they each play an active role in helping people stay fit. All types of dance styles work to engage all parts of the body to not only create harmony, but to create a graceful workout.

As dancing is done with the entire body, dancers never skip leg day. Dance actively involves the muscles of the arms, legs, torso, back, and even the facial muscles, as the goal is to create oneness with the body as a whole. Through dance one can increase their endurance and stamina monumentally. For example, I had to give a three hour performance for my graduation show and after practicing over five hours everyday, I had built more muscle than I had from six hour long soccer tryouts. Thus, although many people discredit dance and claim it is not a sport, it still has an incredible number of physical benefits.

Dancing is also a great cardio workout through which people can considerably lessen the risks of getting heart disease. Furthermore, it often results in increased flexibility and is a good source of motor and aerobic fitness. Dance is also beneficial when it comes to weight management. In relation to the picture we had to observe for last week’s RCL Blog, dancing could also contribute to one’s physical confidence. Often times when people feel comfortable with their external appearance, they feel better internally as well. This is quite analogous to the instances in which people have good hair days and they automatically feel better about themselves.

Another benefit of dancing is that it can help improve balance and keep the center of gravity within the body stable. Since many dance styles involve posing, it is often compulsory for dancers to have a grounded center of gravity in order to hold a pose for an extended period of time. To add to the list of ways dance can prevent health-related adversities, dance can also aid in reducing the risk of getting osteoporosis as it helps make not just the muscles stronger, but the bones too. Although it is common for dancers to have knee injuries and shoulder injuries, their overall bone structure is very resilient.

The list of physical benefits of dancing could go on forever; however the last thing I would like to touch upon are the improvements in coordination and spatial awareness that result from dancing. Since dancing involves all parts of the body to move fluidly to the beats in the music, coordination is a very important aspect when it comes to synchronization. In addition, spatial awareness is beneficial not in the world of dance but in the realm of everyday life. It is important in dance because it gives dancers a sense of stage presence, however it can also be helpful in math or physics classes at school or even presentations in English class and the workforce.

Ultimately, dancing is a great form of exercise with benefits that extend to not just those who desire to stay fit, but also to those who would like to improve in other aspects of their everyday life.

The Essence of Dance Part 1

Have you ever been liberated by dance in a way that does not just free you from your surroundings, but creates oneness between your mind, body, and soul? I believe that dance has the power to make us feel that way. To feel free, yet complete. Dancing is one of the oldest forms of art and although it has not always been deemed as an art, in today’s day and age, that seems to be the best way to describe it. Dance ranges from just a simple bob of the head to an intricate series of steps involving facial expressions and complex movements of the arms and legs, but regardless of the how complicated it may or may not be, we feel a sense of enjoyment in the process. While I believe that dancing may not come easily to every one, anyone can dance and thus, dancers create unity among not only those around them, but also those around the world.

Dance has been used as a therapeutic process for individuals since the beginning of time, and it is still used as a method of obtaining internal peace. It has been around since the earliest records were taken with styles ranging from the Rain Dance performed by Native Americans to the Indian classical dance styles of South India performed to entertain authority and praise God. The grace involved with dance allows us to relieve ourselves from the stress around us so we can focus on the process of letting go. Dancing allows us to let go of the reality around us and transcend into a world of our own, away from the hardships and struggles involved with everyday life. While some dance styles require discipline and stiff movements to depict precision, others require flow and softer movements to help us connect with our emotions. Dancing for me, just like for many others, serves as an outlet of expression through which we can forget about the rest of the world and move to our happy place, a place where “Hakuna Matata” is genuinely the most accurate adage to describe it. Dancing is a passion through which people with even the greatest differences can unite.

A dance can tell a story without words. We create stories with our expressions and intricate gestures. I have been trained in dance for the past thirteen years, and not until recently did I realize that if it were not for this art form, I would not have been even half the person I am today. Dancing has shaped me to be a stronger, more disciplined individual with the ability to face challenges and overcome them gracefully. While dance has so many physical advantages, the perks extend internally as well. Mentally, dancers have the ability to stay concentrated on the task at hand and our creativity allows us to view the world differently. Ultimately, dance has numerous benefits, but most importantly it is the essence of dance that allows us to liberate ourselves and unite our passions for this beautiful art form.