By: Alina Das
The iridescent lights and hundreds of filled seats made my heart beat in a way I had never felt before. As my name was called, I slowly walked onto the empty stage. Using all my gathered confidence from the past 8 years of training, I stood in my ready position, waiting for the music to begin. I thought about where I started and how far I had come as the beat of the music fell in sync with the rhythm of my pulse.
I was seven years old when my mom forced me to enroll in Bharatanatyam classes. She kept repeating “I never had these opportunities as a kid, but you do,” until I finally gave in. Bharatanatyam, a genre of Indian classical dance, was a difficult skill to master. The intricate hand gestures and feet movements made it especially hard to connect with the style; however, as time passed, Bharatanatyam taught me more than just dance. It taught me to value my roots, appreciate my culture, and treat my elders with respect. I learned that consistency is the key to building strength, that having good posture exudes confidence, and that each movement of my body is a story I express through dance.
When it came time for my Arangetram, a two-hour solo debut performance after my eighth year of training, I had to decide whether or not Bharatanatyam would be a significant part of my future. I realized that I could not give up what instilled discipline, self-assurance, and creativity into my daily life. Today, I am thankful that my mom pushed me to channel my energy into dance. It is my artistic outlet, my source of empowerment, and a constant reminder of who I am.