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Dance of living
What is dance?
The word dance, immediately brings to mind graceful synchronized movements that either explicitly express a thought, or set a mood to nurture a host of them.
Every movement in nature is synchronized - even apparent randomness, and there can be no life without movement, real or notional.
Isn't living then an elaborate dance?..
Dance of Living
It was time to awaken from the state of cyclic slumber;
The celestials, in their lofty trails, had begun to lumber;
And conspire, as was their wont, for unknown reasons;
To initiate contrasting changes of day and night; of seasons.
From a multipede a cautious step, from a bird a tentative croon;
Progressively, more joined in, before long and very soon;
Life began to proliferate; life forms began to prance;
Every moment of every day was a festival of dance.
Sunlight swamped the earth; a sense of joy it instilled.
Bees droned about blissfully; a butterfly fluttered fulfilled.
Dream and reality coalesced; want shed its meaning;
Serendipity paused indolently and watched, casually leaning.
It is perhaps from this idyllic spectacle, that such notions arise.
Of gods, goddesses, and angels; of eternity and paradise.
Man wove these impressions together and named it "Art".
In which, expressions of every genre played their little part.
Diversity being existense’s ineffaceable hallmark;
Its shadow upon man’s art is significant and stark.
Every land to its respective art, its peculiarity imparts.
Yet, every variety universally captivates minds and hearts.
Time too moulds and directs the propensity of articulation;
The beliefs of the populace and the politics of a nation.
Many a dance form that was once for the exclusive few
Perished, and were resurrected for the masses anew.
The purpose of art is, man's sensitivity, to enhance;
One that does so comprehensively is certainly dance.
It strikes a chord in people with any shade of proclivity;
Be it intense bellicosity, utter frivolity, or extreme piety.
Although seemingly ensconced in firm and rigorous notions,
Dance is essentially spontaneous; an outpouring of emotions.
Every civilizational history has at least one of it to adorn;
It has been around and thriving, since the human race was born.
It is no wonder then that imagining the ancient land of Egypt,
Brings to mind a gigantic pyramid with Tutankhamen’s crypt.
And the spectacle of a horde of men lazily tapping their feet,
Watching belly dancers gyrating to a reverberating drum beat.
Belly dancing is said to have evolved over 6000 years ago;
Its intent far different than being an entertainment show.
A form of adulation and worship of a matriarchal deity,
Which extolled womanhood and a female’s procreational ability.
The sinewy undulations and the deliberately effected spasms,
Bridge the millenia elapsed and the long transitional chasm,
And demonstrate their likeness to body movements at childbirth.
Belly dancing is more than just a means of pleasure and mirth.
Art and its related realms, to the feminine gender,
Traditionally has it been preserved, to render.
Nature too has been biased in its bestowal of traits;
Granting rigidity to one and gentleness to their fairer mates.
The Far East, with its veiled conventions has spawned,
A dedicated way of life that is undeservedly scorned.
An epitome of grace they are, Geisha is the name they don;
That literally means a performing artist in Japanese lexicon.
A Geisha has to master a range of sophisticated talents;
In pursuit of which many of her early years are spent.
Singing and dance, calligraphy, and a keen eye for dress;
These along with charm and etiquette, spell a Geisha's success.
A century has seen the practice wane from when it was at its peak;
Resilience has seen it transform with a contemporary tweak.
To a stage performance highlighting culture for a mass audience;
The old art form has rebounded in step with a new cadence.
It is startling to realize just how much the environment sways
Our disposition towards life, manipulating it in unexpected ways.
It is also true in a like manner that we perceive only what we want.
Life and us are merely reflections that incessantly each other haunt.
There are dance forms that are far from being subtle or gentle;
Yet, despite their vigour and verve, they are equally temperamental.
Being endowed with a marked and strong masculine flavour;
The strength and gusto of male dancers, spectators get to savour.
The Cossack Dance is one of many examples of such a manifestation;
Reflecting the sense of freedom and splendour of Kazakhi imagination.
Their movements are replete with impulses inherent to a martial race;
The feeling of living life to the full radiates intensely from their face.
If there is one underlying current that sustains all life,
Which causes as well as solves every manner of strife;
It is the urge to procreate; to propagate one’s own;
And nurture the seed sown until to maturity it has grown.
Every emotion can be associated to this primary urge;
A languid sea of calmness or a momentous volcanic surge.
Vulgarity or sublimity are perceptions relative to the mental stance;
Every action can be seen to be a part of an elaborate mating dance.
The term ‘mating’ transcends the mere physical sense,
Which is just a shadow of a deeper and exalted perseverance.
The yearning for completeness, the longing for the unknown;
The quest for the eternal, a pursuit to which every soul is prone.
With flexibility in their generally rigid dating rituals,
Which make for wonderful, amazing, and enchanting visuals;
The denizens of the earth live life day after each exciting day;
Deluded, that it is their wisdom, that leads them on their way.
To commemorate this consistently common behavioral streak;
Into exaggerated animal attires, man occasionally does sneak,
And attempts to relive their emotions, as he understands them.
Perhaps, animals endeavor so too! To ponder, it is a thought solemn.
Dances with an identity that is established and formal,
Come in three categories –Conjugal, Communal, and Conventional.
For the first two, pairing and communion are the defining themes;
The exhilaration of adventure, powers the third in its exploratory dreams.
Salsa is one of the dance forms of the conjugal genre;
With racy young hearts - an undisputable winner.
Its saucy and spicy as its Spanish appellation suggests;
With a sense of vivacious fulfillment the dancers, it infests.
Waltz is yet another of this kind meant just for couples,
Where emotions are expressed in ardent but subdued ripples.
In each other’s gentle grip, to the slow music they sway;
For those magical moments at least, wishing all their troubles away.
Dandia and Garba are representations of animated community art,
Where individuals of all ages and gender unite with body, mind, and heart.
Demureness and abandon, dynamism and apathy are together spun;
There is a little bit of everything during these enthralling nights of fun.
The Congolese have their own distinct social dance forms;
Nonexclusive, improvised, yet imbued with ritualistic norms.
The inimitable African drum-beat always sets the tone;
Mesmerizing all into participation, leaving none alone.
The conventional and traditional are inevitably ancient and old;
Their origins irretrievably lost in one of time’s nondescript folds.
Steeped in beliefs and religious views, they flaunt a mystical touch;
The initiated find it to be a spiritual treat; the unacquainted not as much.
The Chinese with a history that goes back to the hoary past;
Have a long and rich tradition of the performing arts.
They have managed continuity and change exceedingly well;
Preserving the essence, borrowing from the new, and keeping the derelict apart.
Modern Chinese dancing though based on mythical origins;
Amalgamates essentials of a range of diverse disciplines.
Tai Chi, Kung Fu, ballet and a bit of Confucian thought;
To the deep wisdom of the past, a universal bearing it has brought.
A classical dance form that has preserved its tenets intact;
Weathering modernity's influences and its inexorable impact;
Is the ages old Indian art of "Bharatanatyam";
With a repertoire that straddles time and is utterly wholesome.
The universality of its elaborate collection of suggestive gestures,
That find resonance in contemporary works or ancient scriptures;
Bharatanatyam can be adapted to stage a forgotten mythical play,
Or enact - upon the American psyche, Obama’s overwhelming sway.
There are hundreds of other dance forms jostling for space;
New ones spring up as new thought-processes get going apace.
Those that have outlived their utility slowly wither away,
And live on as adaptations in those that continue in the fray.
Each one of us is a work of art; Each inimitable and unique;
Each a paradigm of divinity; In each, the eternal, one can seek.
Each a prisoner of personal emotions; Each in their perpetual states of trance;
Each an artiste in their own right, because, to be alive – is to dance.