Dance: Reset

ballet centre

Recognizing the symptoms:

an Imploration for change.

A couple of months ago, I left the dance company that I’d been training at and working for. It was a relief to be free of the intensity of their rigorous schedule months and months of serious and intensive, often 12 hour long, dance days. There was suddenly time for the much-needed whiff of travel, fresh air, and rest! This was followed by a period of renewed enthusiasm: meeting new people, sampling workshops, witnessing diverse artistic styles, indulging in the culture that is Mumbai.

And then I found this article and I watched this video. I read their arguments: the actor’s obvious lack of training, her awful injury-inviting technique, the multitude of professionals that are available for the job, who feel fittingly insulted[especially as there is an appalling scarcity of opportunity and a disrespectful amount of wages rendered to them].

But to me, the real outrage was that my empathy towards the offended felt too familiar, too personal. My enthusiasm to experience all that was new and different on the dance scene, had already, previously, been embittered. Mumbai is the city of dreams, a ripe economy. There’s a dance studio around every corner with sub-par instructors; posters littering the walls of cafés and fuse boxes, pictures stolen off the web, often crudely put together, bearing different names: slight variations of the words academy, dance, arts or , studio.

While I am all for the proliferation of dance to every human soul, there must be a certain quality to the dance education that is offered. A well-founded desire for financial stability, coupled with a salacious market, has led to an overwhelming amount of half-baked teachers, lacking, often, the fundamental knowledge of the style that they seek to mint money off. Here, I find it important to note: I refer more to the western dance styles, such as Jazz or Contemporary [their Indian counterparts have managed to retain their stronghold on an excessively rigid cultural orthodoxy]. Each company is different enough, usually by a degree, employing means, such as adding a personalised version of Bollywood to the mix, or by employing the tricks of a dangerously untrained yet superficially ever-so-cool B-Boyer: while the ‘aunties’, in their trainers and tracks wander in ‘Kitty-party’ packs- a crusade against cellulite: the new-age aerobics hang.

At some point, a line must be drawn, a re-definition of dance and it’s many faces: Art, career, business, aesthetics, technique, passion, sensuality, education, fitness, experimentation, inspiration, culture, connection, love: a re-proportion of the balance of this multi-dimensional question.

All I can do is beseech every single dancer out there: you dance, for yourself; but when you teach, it is a responsibility that you owe every student- it is the service you offer: what does your conscience say?

 

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Poignantly Political

I finally got around to watching Frost-Nixon, the 2008 film about the interview between the two.

For someone who knows a precious little about American Politics, and cares, perhaps, even less about Politics in general, the film presented a fresh reflection of the history of the world as we know it today. Keeping in mind that it was after all a film that I was watching, contorted into being with its immense necessity for drama, the depth of the characters did in fact touch me. Frank Langella, playing the role of the controversial President, Richard Nixon, inspires a range of emotions. From the horribly overbearing, corrupt and money-minded politician, he unravels into a sad, lonely old-man inspiring pity despite his wrongdoings, especially in the closing shot of him standing alone, holding a pair of lace-less Italian shoes, not quite watching the sun set over his beach-side mansion, a picture that paradoxically epitomizes the extent of human sympathy. It is perhaps easier to forgive him (well, perhaps ignore him,) of those wrongdoings because they were not highlighted via action in the film itself. The crux of the film and its implications are reflected in the following quote from the film:

“…the first and greatest sin of the deception of television is that it simplifies; it diminishes great, complex ideas, stretches of time; whole careers become reduced to a single snapshot… really understood the reductive power of the close-up, because David had succeeded on that final day, in getting for a fleeting moment what no investigative journalist, no state prosecutor, no judiciary committee or political enemy had managed to get; Richard Nixon’s face swollen and ravaged by loneliness, self-loathing and defeat.”

This does however, give rise to the age-old philosophical arguments on justice. Was his pardon sufficiently acceptable because of his admission of incessant guilt that is to follow? By that logic, shouldn’t every crime face an equitable sentence of introspection and penitence? Does this not remove any need for a judicial system to enforce social order? And following this cognitive tangent, is it not evident, even as Nixon confesses “and worst of all I let down our system of government, [and the dreams of all those young people that ought to get into government but now they think; ‘Oh it’s all too corrupt and the rest’]”, that he continues to hypocritically, and perhaps even unconsciously, undermine the government of the country he has sworn an oath to?

In a present sphere of existence, we are continually uncertain, much like the young David Frost faced in his efforts to interview the impeached president. The world was full of skeptics, his friends uncertain, however ‘History’ ‘illuminates’, allowing for the proper traction of any tale. Thus the original interview, and the film itself, prove to be quite the postmortem revelation.

After all; “when the President does it, that means it’s *not* illegal!”

Getting to it

The world is in dire need of a change. 

We don’t often realize it, because we’re so ‘busy’ forging through the tide of a hum-drum every-day sort of existence. As inspiring as an ostrich may be, a problem doesn’t disappear just because you decide not to look at it, and by extension acknowledge it. In fact, it worsens, like termites or lice.

I grew up on a heavy diet of fantasy fiction. Even today, it is my preferred state of information. Why would I choose to confront reality when I’m presented with an array of novel worlds, that deign to contain any of the darkness that engulfs our world. That didn’t prevent the fact that I continued to ‘sigh for the world’.
I’d often wish for super-powers, or a grand transformation into a faerie, so as to wave my magic wand and be-sparkle the world, cleansing it of all it’s ills.

Unfortunately, I had to grow up, and step into the real world. For years I had argued with my grandfather about the existing political will, anonymously stated my opinions in examination essays that pompously ordered a distinction between boon and bane, and then finally given in to find a place, albeit an unsteady one, in the accepted mode of modern livelihood. Now, however, at this very moment, I’m unable to willfully and guiltlessly ignore what the world is trying to say.

This does not mean that I know what to do, about the environment, or poverty, or religious intolerance. This lack and utter disrespect for any form of equality or compassion, troubles me, and I shall accept and undertake this quest of understanding.

I vaguely remember a tale that spoke of two rather well-to-do friends. While one of the women whined on and on about her issues- domestic and otherwise, the other just listened. When they reached the end of their journey, the silent one retorted: ‘If the floor is dirty, all you have to do is put your shoes on’. The moral intonations of the statement immediately muted The Complainer, the blaring yet ignored sentiments of NIMBY really got to me. 

Someone’s got to clean the streets up. 
So let’s get to it.

I’m truly a feminist; well rather, an individualist: walking the line where the two concepts merge.
I’d probably have added several other songs to this list though, such as: Destiny Child’s Survivor and a couple of years later Cheetah Girls’ Girl Power, and Superchick’s One Girl Revolution.

Thought Catalog

The ’90s provided us with some great feminist anthems. Some were clearly written to break down the patriarchy and notions of how women “should” act, some were manufactured to sell albums through the popularity of “girl groups.” Some of these are true feminist anthems, some in retrospect are a bit problematic. But most of these were intros to feminism for me and a lot of grrls growing up in the ’90s, for better or worse.

1. Unpretty / No Scrubs

I just sang “Unpretty” at karaoke and drunkenly dedicated it to the ladies in the house so it seems appropriate to start with. I love the message of this song, especially the part that goes, “Maybe I’ll get rid of you and then I’ll get back to me.” Left Eye (RIP) even does sign language in the video. And of course, everyone knows “No Scrubs.” It’s what I yell back…

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The Internet is Haunted

Here, I revisit the theme of immortality.

It is after all, a basal human tendencies, either stemming from, or causing, the ingrained fear of death.

While reading a short summary of Shakespeare’s life, the gaping holes of his biography were almost appalling. The context, after all, is what enhances and deepens the essence of any text. Without it, the links to its author and thereby the wyrds of all the souls he is entangled with, are incomplete; and this, furthermore, following the chronology of history, alienates the reader. Perhaps, Shakespeare best personifies the Barthes’ concept of ‘The Death of the Author’.

However, I deviate.
This drive to exist continually, dictates a panorama of human choices through the ages. It is after all, the cusp of most existential phases- the need to believe in a ‘raison d’être’. If not for it, we’re all merely a faded blip in the eternity of existence.

This is perhaps the reason the Internet finds popularity in this current tangent of progression.
It has after all wormed its way into our lives [I’ve just live-streamed a friend’s gig online, and cheered for the band via twitter]; and the promises it holds, in death, seem worthwhile.

In my passing, for example, whether or not my deeds have paramount to anything eventful, my name will forever mark the hidden archives of forgotten websites- irrefutable proof that I once was.
My Facebook page, though perhaps deleted, will be my epitaph for all the time that is to come. And while all physical evidence of my being is long washed away, my virtual soul will continue to lurk through the annals of cyber-space.

In short it boils down to the human insistence of survival.
Those who can’t adapt, are, as promised, forgotten.

And much like Limbo, the Web continues to be a terminal for the souls that wait…

Waiting 2

Waiting

Beauty and Youth

It would be prudent, perhaps, to cite my inspiration, at the very beginning.
Dorian Gray, the model muse; and now mine, to weave into my tale.

Keats, strangely, is the first link in the chain of thought, that this particular subject galvanizes.
Ode on the Poets, was the first of his works that I came across, and it has effortlessly, effervescently, perfumed my life.
His words, from almost two centuries ago, continue to paint his Utopia; humming with his Nightingale in the Elysian lawns that he promises to roam, after…

He died at the age of five-and-twenty. He was far too young.

When Heath Ledger died, the world felt a similar anxiety.
The heart-wrenching angst at the death of one so young, so beautiful; especially when they ought to be presented with a Ring, or the Grail, or a sip from a sacred spring, to ensure that they stay quite as they are, never-ceasing to illuminate the world with their brilliance.

Wilde’s tale, however, presents the shortcomings, of such eventualities. The warranted evil that supersedes human nature, more often than not, turns the boon into a curse. A curse, not so much for the actual receiver of this celestial gift,  but for the world he continually influences.
Who wouldn’t tire of the tedium of decades of unrestrained debauchery?

Perhaps then, it is only the average that can hope to dream of an attainment of the amaranthine bliss; only the frugal and the plain.
And all this while, the Bright-Stars burn with a passion, too strong to sustain an infinite living. Their wick burns faster; their light, stronger and almost instantly extinguished.

To learn from the lessons of the souls before us, we each face that choice, of the being we are to be.
Burn bright or burn forever; that internal flame.

<Monday: Keats sips tea with Artemis, and you and I get back to work.>

~For he possesses the only two things worth having, youth and beauty~

Julie and Julia

Blogs, as a whole, have been a controversial subject to me.

While I find reading them awfully informative and interesting, writing is a whole new story.

Sure, writing everyday whispers the promise of the fruits of regiment, focus and practice. However, as far as I’m concerned, my life seems to disorganized, to successfully capture and craft the ‘Scatterings’ into an intelligible form. I must illuminate here, the question of what it is I actually mean to blog about, and why you would want to read about it. I’ve been existential enough, over the years to search, often desperately, for a reason; and a longing not to repeat my living, rambling aimlessly…

And then, perhaps for a breath of solace and an attempt at grasping at self-acceptance, that I rather presumptuously wonder why I’d waste my weaving on words no one’s ever going to read, without being paid a penny for it, when after all, word-lore is my only current means of livelihood. Beyond that, what if I make a mistake that’ll cost me…

… and thus I could continue.

So,  taking a page out of Jules’ book[and here I refer to both these lovely July women], and disregarding the recipe[at least for now], I breathe deeply [as deeply as my poor lungs possibly can, this polluted air of reality], and step into a portal of your virtual world. And perhaps on the way. as self-involved as this sounds, I might discover another piece of this puzzle that is ‘I’…