A recent facebook post by one of my students, stating it took her five years of dancing Odissi before she felt worthy of the title “dancer”, made me think about my journey, and about how strong of a grip our childhood conditioning can be.
How many of you had had a childhood experience when someone older and supposedly wiser than you, had barked at you mindlessly, “you have no rhythm, you shouldn’t be dancing!” or “singing is not for you!” or “never mind art, you should be focusing on math”. Well, I did…
I had spent a significant portion of my youth simply anticipating the next opportunity to dance.
As a child, I couldn’t wait to begin dance classes, which as my community determined, was once you graduate into 5th grade. I had taken dance classes since till the end of my school years. As a teenager, I could barely wait till high school will begin, as it marked the initiation into our “Discotek”, the weekly Friday night dance at the Kibbutz.
Once I left home and started exploring myself and the world, I took private Flamenco classes while living in Mexico, African dance classes while I traveled through Europe, Daily Kathak classes in Varanasi… and many other random dance workshops from classical to ethnic to contemporary, folk, spiritual, authentic, you name it. Then, I discovered Odissi, and it grabbed me like no dance from ever did… and still, after all these years of dancing, it never yet occurred to me to call myself “A dancer”… until I started teaching and performing. When dance became part of the way I make my living, I finally gave myself the permission to say “I’m a dancer” and not feel like an imposer, and still, till this day, I find myself in certain audiences, needing to explain myself, almost apologize.
I grew up in an East European Jewish culture, where the unspoken sentiment of success was scholarship. Intellectual pursuits were worthy, and art was just for fun. I learned over the years to embrace myself as a healer, dancer, artist, spiritual being, and a scholar too. I had never let these deep childhood conditioning rule my life path, or stop me from unfolding my potential in all its multi colors petals, but boy, I feel you, so many who hesitate to attend dance classes because you are concern you may not be “good enough” to dance or have no sense of rhythm, or whatever is stopping you, listen to your inner voice, and go for it. It is already midsummer after all, and tomorrow the gradual decline of light will begin… there is no better time than now.