Friday, May 4, 2012

The Dance

The rehearsals , "practice" as Ma would sternly say, would begin more than a month before.
No nap after school. No running out to play before "practice".
Masterji would wheel his bicycle up the hillock where our house stood, sip the hot cup of tea and Britannia Marie Ma served him, and then sit down on the floor with the "khol" ( dholak).

I would be ready with my anklets. One two three and start... he would beat the rhythm on his palms first as his melodious voice rang out, seamlessly transitioning to the Khol, as I swayed and twirled and bent and tapped and finally came to a panting halt.
"Hold your smile"
"Look at the middle finger of your left hand, that way you are not staring at the audience"
"Graceful, graceful... softness of steps"

He would go on and on, till the curtains were drawn and the lights warmed the room with their golden hue.

The last week would be with full costume on.
The last two days with full make up and costume on.
The last day on the final stage.
The dry run.

On the day of the performance, Ma would make sure we had light food.
Arrived at the venue well in time.
Last minute instructions.
Daddy's calm " You always dance well, don't worry".
Ma's " Don't forget your smile".

Wait in the Green Room.
The final rush to the wash room.
Walk to the wings.
Hear the anchor describe my act and announce my name.
Take a deep breath. One last prayer.

And then, step out into the spotlight.
Before the expectant eyes of an audience who I couldn't let down.

And I would start my dance.
Forgetting everything and everyone else.

Years later, the only dance I manage now is a quick move at a party before I pant and slump into the nearest sofa. Have forgotten the acts, the moves, the steps.

But I use my learnings every day.
At work, when I speak.
At a presentation.
In meetings.

Everything, at the end of the day, is a performance.


  1. But after a presentation - do you still pause and hold your smile as you put out the middle finger of your left hand and stare it, while the glow of the projector fills the room - do you? Hmmm... I am sure some clients deserve that treatment ;o)...

    But good reading as always!!