Friday, December 01, 2017

Dancing on air

Some time ago, my sister, who is an avid reader of Psychology Today, sent me a link to an article with a note -- 'This resonates with your attitude to singing.' I read it and yes, she was right. Ever since I can remember, I had been into music, especially ghazals. At the age of five, I was listening to and loving Ghulam Ali. Without understanding anything, of course. But I could sing each of his ghazals I had heard. Then I started trying to understand the lyrics, getting a deeper insight into the exact pronunciation and significance of the Urdu words.

Over the years, the music cassettes in my house were part of my collection, not my mom's anymore. I would even exchange cassettes with Om Prakash, our house help, and discover new gems. But I was thankful to my parents for never forcing me to take up lessons in spite of my obviously crazy love for music. I'm pretty sure that if I had taken up formal lessons, I might have become a good singer, but my love for music would have died.

Which is why I was very, very particular that in this world where kids are being shoved into every possible kind of lesson, from Karate to Kumon to Kathak, we wouldn't thopo anything on Xena against her wishes. All three of us were on the same page -- that we would expose her to everything, she could try out anything, but what (or whether) she wanted to learn something formally was really up to her. (Except swimming. We told her that she needed to learn it, not to be great at it or win medals, but because it was a necessary life skill. She was fine with that, and thankfully, enjoys her swim lessons.)

When she was very young, I used to wonder what her hobbies would be. Would she like the things that Viv and I generally like, or would it be something totally different? From time to time, we'd ask her if she wanted to go for any trial classes, and she'd always say no.

Then one day, she suddenly asked for piano lessons. Possibly inspired by our neighbour's kids who play the piano and the harp and the violin. She started, but after a few months, didn't want to continue anymore. Her teacher told us that contrary to most cases, this child of ours loved music theory but wasn't so passionate when it came to actually playing the instrument. In most cases, it's the opposite. Kid just want to directly start playing and not bother so much with the theory. We were quite amused. Anyway, we pulled her out of piano lessons.

Last November, I took her for a trial Bollywood dance class because I'd been getting the feeling that it would help her gain confidence -- she had been getting too shy at times, especially when outside her comfort zones such as home and school. As she's already very familiar with Bollywood music (because of my constantly playing it), she was happy to go for the trial.

It was a total disaster. Though she had agreed to the trial class, she started crying the moment she entered the studio and insisted that I go inside with her. I told her that parents are not allowed inside and I would wait outside for her. She would stop dancing and come running to the door every now and then to check if I was there and then reluctantly go back.

By the end of the lesson, I already knew it wasn't going to happen. Sure enough, she said she didn't want to continue and I agreed. I don't know what brewed in her head over the next few days, but suddenly she was keen to join the class again. Maybe it was the fact that two of her friends who had also done the trial class with her had decided to continue.

Ironically, they dropped out after the first lesson and to my utter surprise, Xena didn't want out. Wow. In fact, dance lessons were the ones that excited her the most. She'd come back and tell me all the songs she had danced to, and ask me to send her favourite Coke Studio Pakistan songs to her teacher so her class could dance to them!!

"I think she really likes dancing," I told Viv, filled with amazement.  Of all the hobbies I'd imagined she might inherit from Viv and me, dancing was nowhere in the picture! (Both of us have about 13 left feet in common.)

Over the weeks, we literally saw her glow with confidence and randomly start dancing anywhere and everywhere -- bus stops, shopping malls, the walk from the school to the bus stop. It's been a year, and the passion continues. If there is music, she is grooving.

Last month, her dance studio had its annual stage performance and Xena was part of it. She was the tiniest little dancer in her group, and doing her very best. We were so proud of her.

Here's the video of her performance (she starts on the extreme left and moves to the middle later). 


Arun said...


BTW I can’t believe that a cricketer batsman who has to have fancy footwork to face the bowling has any left feet.

How do we know said...

:) She is Da Princess!

Charan Deep Singh said...

wow... wow

preetiprasad said...

I am on of your silent bing reader.. Xena is so confident and graceful.. I guess when kids get to do what they really enjoy, they are the best..