TEACHING ME TO ‘JUST BE’ Yes, it was a calling from within! Important decisions were to be taken, or maybe I should say, ‘life decisions’ were to be taken, and YES, the decision I took then, brings me to where I am today. Do you have a strong calling from within? And, when you do have this calling, do you actually pay attention to it, and do what it takes to convert this calling to action. Can this calling actually be your innate passion? Well, identifying with your innate passion is not something that everyone can do, not because they do not have the capability to, but because they don’t have the choice to. In a society like ours, any choice you make other than academics, is strictly not accepted, and is looked down upon. When I chose dance over Chartered Accountancy, it came as a shocker to all my people. Was I in my right senses when I picked a shaky career like dance, over an extremely exciting, remunerative career like CA? Yes, senseless back then, but extremely sensible now is what people would have to say after looking at my career graph. Dance and Music, like in any TamBram family, is a must know extracurricular activity that every child needs to be initiated into. And just like that, when I was 3, my mother enrolled me in a dance class too. But… dance was always for fun. Little did I think of making a career out of it. I remember, when I was in 10th grade, my principal came upto me and asked me “What are your plans after this? You are a great dancer, do you choose to make a career in this?” .Back then this seemed like the most ridiculous question to ask a 10th grader, who was never exposed to such options and was only told to make a choice between Science and Commerce. Where did Dance fit in? Could that even be an option? I didn’t even consider. So yes, then came a 90% in 10th grade, followed by a Commerce Admission interview and then me cracking my CA entrance, and Boom…there I was in the CA rat race even before I knew it! Alright, So what happened to my dance all these years you may ask? Dance was always there, I always danced, be it at the School Culturals, College Fests, Outstation Programmes, dance was always a part of me. Or so did I assume? You don’t quite realize the actual value of something you love, unless you lose it, or are on the verge of losing it. And this is exactly what happened to me. It was only when I started seriously studying for my CA, attending tuitions and then college, that my dance took a backseat. And by backseat I mean, I almost lost it. No time for classes, no performances, NOTHING. But this ‘nothing’ is what actually drove me to find my ‘something’. I woke up to reality! It felt like a part of me was dying, a part of me was leaving. And, if I didn’t save it back then, I’d be lost, completely dead by now. It was an overnight decision that I took to quit doing CA and pursue what I love, pursue my new found love! Yes, DANCE had a completely different meaning that night, and I had never experienced this bond that I share with dance before. It was an awakening, an inner calling and this ‘something’ has kept me alive till date. Of course such life decisions can’t be taken without a strong support system! You need someone to echo your decision, tell you that what you are doing may not be mainstream, but it sure is the path to find happiness. When everyone was questioning me about my decision, I had my 2 pillars, my mother and sister, support me every single time. My mother always told me “Dance is going to be 10 times tougher than a corporate job. Unstable income, Different kind of Politics, Tough Competition, and a lot of other obstacles, but if you work hard, you can overcome all of these, and live a happier life than what a corporate job can offer you. If you’re ready, go right ahead, take the plunge. I’ve always got your back”. Yes, my mother was so positive, and could guide me wisely, only because she decided to quit her corporate job for her music much later in life. She never wanted it to be too late for me though. The door to happiness stood right there, and keys in my hand, all I had to do was to unlock my happiness with the right key. And so I did! Unlocked my door to happiness, and got right into this huge ocean of fine arts. Today with my hectic travel schedule, the number of performances I have lined up every month, the classes I teach, the institution that I manage, my studies, life has sure become challenging, but in a very beautiful way! There are no weekends here, no partying, no time to socialize, there is no 10am-6pm timings, the schedule is extremely erratic, physically so draining, BUT, mentally I’m very content and happy! Running an institution along with my mother, has helped me hone my skill at being a good Arts Admin, Manager, Event Organizer and Effective Communicator apart from being a Dancer. Performing at different venues enables me to travel across the Globe, meet different people and get to share ideas, visions and my dance! My classes fills me with a rejuvenating energy. My students are so full of positivity, happiness, love and an undying enthusiasm to learn dance. I teach with an aim to have them understand the dance form as a whole and not just as a performing art. I’m forever indebted to my Gurus, who’ve imparted so much of their knowledge and showered me with their blessings and are still continuing to guide me in the right path. Yes I chose dance, but I never stopped being a student. I have always wanted to study; I enjoy reading and learning new stuff. This innate desire of mine led me to pursue my Masters in Fine Arts (MFA Bharathnatyam), under the guidance of Dr.Padma Subramanyam. This course changed my entire approach to dance and this is something I’m looking to go deeper into. I was introduced into Philosophy a couple of years back and this changed everything for me. My outlook, the way I dance, the way I think and the quality of reasoning and going beyond, everything changed. You can probably say, this is also something that led me to ‘Sahaj Marg’. Finding peace and quietness is something that dance takes me towards. I dance a lot at different programmes, for many an audience, but the moments that I cherish the most are the one’s when I dance for myself - lost in the moment, lost within. These moments help me explore dance for what it is, helps me identify myself with the inner calling and helps me find a new dimension to ‘dance’ each time! Dance can not only help the dancer find joy, but it is a language that can help overcome stress, agony, depression and takes the audience to another plane. In life, there are certain decisions that one must take, there will be a voice from within calling out to you, a constant nudge to listen to yourself, HEAR YOURSELF OUT! YOU are IMPORTANT! The society will tell you what is right as per them, but you are the only one who can tell yourself what is right for you! Living a life free of stress, is an option available to everyone, but do you WANT to choose this? Life is too short to make wasted decisions and regret later. Just live the moment and do what makes you happy! If you know you can create something out of your passion - then give it a shot. It’s scary - yes it is! But you know, if you are committed and true to yourself - your life will be meaningful for YOU! Try overcoming your fears with your passion, you will be surprised at the enormous strength and energy that your passion can give you! YOU are enough for yourself! There is a lot more that I seek, I want to learn, I want to experience in life, and I’m certain that Dance will take me there, where I actually want to be, JUST BE!