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I Hope You Dance

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My muscles are a little sore as I am writing this. Last evening, my four-year old daughter, Radhika, and I broke into one of our impromptu dance parties at home. We have a section of the house with no furniture that we like to use as our dance floor. We blare Bollywood music (sometimes kids’ hip-hop), she wears her tutu skirt, and we grab a couple of colorful scarves each and go crazy. Crazy is exactly how we would appear to anyone witnessing our performance. We dance like nobody’s watching because—nobody’s watching. Our dance moves are unlimited and completely uninhibited, and also involve skipping and hopping all around the house. I love our mom-daughter dance parties because they are a great workout for both of us, and also because these come in handy when I start running out of ideas for keeping her away from the television, especially on rainy days which are plenty in our neck of the woods. But what I like the most is that these sessions are so liberating in a way. We lose ourselves in our moves, free of any thoughts, any worries, until our stomachs start growling for food or until Radhika suddenly realizes she needs to use the bathroom.

Radhika loves dancing. Twirling, more specifically. So much so that she only wants to wear dresses that twirl along with her when she dances. And she doesn’t hesitate even for a second if someone asks her to twirl. Most of the times you don’t even have to ask! She twirls quite gracefully, finishing it off with a nice bow as if it was a performance delivered on stage after months of practice. Theatrics come easy to her. We have not enrolled her in any dance class yet, but I think we will start soon, and perhaps a drama class when she grows up a little and continues to be as dramatic as she is now. It’s obvious to me that she will love a dance or ballet class. The happiest I have seen her in her preschool class is when they put music on for kids to dance freely. Her school also frequently takes their class to watch children’s musical plays at the local theater, which involve a lot of singing, dancing, and silliness, and she absolutely loves those. She is always talking about the plays she has seen so far and asking when she can go for the next one. We recently took her to a dance show organized by Indian students at the University of Washington, and she thoroughly enjoyed the entire two-hour “Desi Dhamaka” show, clapping and cheering at just the right moments. I think she would have whistled too if she knew how to!

Radhika’s love for dancing probably comes from my mother (and probably also from my eldest brother who prefers dancing to standing). My mom learned Kathak, an Indian classical dance, as a schoolgirl. She didn’t practice it after leaving school, but she remembered enough steps and moves to give us quick, impromptu performances at home once in a while. Sometimes to cheer us up if anyone was having a low moment, sometimes just because she was in a good mood, sometimes just to show off her skills. Of course, as kids, we would act very embarrassed by her dancing. But now I do the same thing myself, for exactly the same reasons my mom did. The difference is that I am not a trained dancer, so my moves are a bit unpolished and a bit silly on purpose—because that’s exactly how Radhika likes it.

Much like Radhika, I love watching dance performances—of all kinds. Watching a human body move to music is like watching a flowing river. There’s rhythm, there’s excitement, there’s freedom, there’s determination. Best of all, there’s grace. What is a more graceful expression of oneself than dance? Some of my friends who are trained dancers and continue to practice are some of the most graceful people I know—on stage and otherwise. There’s a certain confidence with which they carry themselves, a certain dignity. And I am ever so envious of how fit they look. Fitness and elegance are just side-effects of dance and what can be better than that!

So yes, my daughter is definitely getting trained in dance. As much as we both love our homegrown dance productions, I know that sooner or later she will start rolling her eyes at these, and sooner or later my muscles will start begging for a not-so-crazy workout method. More importantly, I want to see her perform on stage. I even have a song in mind for her first solo dance performance. Yes, I know this makes me sound like a control-freak and that’s probably true, but aren’t all parents dreamers? There’s a beautiful classic Bollywood song, “Madhuban mein Radhika naache re,” (translation: Radhika is dancing away in the gardens of Madhuban), and I have often imagined my little Radhika dancing away on stage to this melodious song. Of course, if she decides that hip-hop is her thing, then another song might be more appropriate. Whatever the form, if dance turns out to be her passion and she decides to pursue it either as her profession or a hobby, then I will be thrilled. Pursuing one’s passion is the key to happiness and I want to always see her happy—and fit, and confident, and graceful. So, my darling Radhika, whether it’s Kathak or hip-hop, and whether it’s for a big audience or just for yourself— I hope you dance!

Meenakshi

By: Meenakshi Sinha

I grew up in New Delhi, India and currently live in Kirkland, WA
with my husband and our four-year-old daughter. I am a financial economist
by training and worked as an economic consultant for many years before my
daughter was born. I enjoy writing about my family and my experiences,
and sometimes food recipes too.
Some of my writing can be found at this page: https://meenakshisinhablog.wordpress.com

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