FINDING BEAUTY IN CHAOS THROUGH DANCE BY NUTAN PATWARDHAN
Life is a dance. And when you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor but to enjoy each step along the way. This mindset comes from my more than 30 years of experience as a Kathak dancer, teacher and choreographer.
Dance has always given me a sense of calm and serenity. It is this sadhana (disciplined and dedicated practice) that has strengthened me to face the largest hurdles in life. As both a dancer and a teacher, I have also cultivated the patience that comes only with constant practice. Patience is the need of the hour, and it has become an uncommon quality in the fast pace of modern life.
As an art form, Kathak consists of several elements: pure dance, facial expressions and mental alertness. In the process of balancing these elements while dancing, I have learned to become swift at adapting to different characters, moods, emotions and movements.
COVID-19 is a time when I am channeling the character of Vishnu, the god of sustenance, resting on the Shesh Naga. Shesh means “that which remains” and Naga means “snake.” The snake symbolizes energy, rebirth, death and mortality, due to the casting of its skin and therefore its symbolic rebirth.
As an artist, I am practicing this state by refueling my physical and mental capacities, developing a fresh approach to my craft and role of a teacher. I try to throw away my old redundant ways of thinking and simply feel grateful for each day. My mornings are spent shooting videos for my students and meditating on how I can better improve myself. What more can I give my students?
Besides daily dance practice and reading, I am further seeking sensory comfort and pleasure by revisiting old recipes that my mother passed down to me when I was a young woman. As my home today fills with the aromatic smells from my childhood, I pass down these traditions and memories to my own daughter who I hope, along with dance, will pass on these memories and recipes to her daughter.
It is upsetting to read about how this virus has greatly impacted so many, but when I see my granddaughter mirroring my dance movements, I can’t help but feel blessed for the strength my art has given me. Dance has given me the power to see beauty within the chaos.
Nutan Patwardhan is Kathak Guru and choreographer. Currently, she leads online classes on the nuances of taal, laya and Abhinaya to develop the dancer within each student. To sign up and participate, please reach out to the Avartan School of Kathak directly at +91 9821095307 or on Facebook here.