“Dance is the nature of existence
Dance is the nature of creation
Dance is a form of awakening
May you experience being the dance, as a dancer!” – Mohanji
It is said that Dance is the language of the Gods! The cosmic dance of Lord Shiva as Nataraja – the Ultimate Dancer, symbolizes Divine control of the universe through five stages – creation, preservation, destruction, illusion and grace. When He dances, matter, energy and sound are sorted out through the vibration of His drum and the elements are aligned in perfect harmony.
There’s something about rhythmic movements to the sound of music that causes all our worry and fear to evaporate instantly. Around the world people engage in various forms of dance, giving wing to their thoughts and feelings and communicating to everyone around through these expressions. Dance, in any form, is a mood enhancer. It has a positive effect not only on the physical but also on the emotional and spiritual well-being of the practitioner.
Let’s start with the physical benefits. We engage in various forms of motion in our daily life – walking, climbing stairs or the more commonly practiced workouts like treadmills or cycling. All these occur only in the sagittal plane, whereas dance works on the body from both sagittal and axial planes and from all directions, which activates and conditions all muscles – essentially a full body workout in the truest sense. This type of movement not only increases strength, it also improves balance.
Dance requires us to focus on both the constant changing movements in alignment with the music while memorizing/recollecting the next ones simultaneously. This is an excellent form of mental exercise for the mind, regardless of age. The popular phrase “Let your hair down” is usually used in conjunction with some form of dance and essentially indicates that by letting oneself “escape” the rigidity of thought and action, we are clearing the cobwebs in our mind, even if only for that brief period of time.
Practiced regularly, dance helps improve one’s mental and emotional health by reducing stress, decreasing the symptoms of anxiety and depression and boosting self-esteem. It’s all connected. If one has a strong body that can host a strong mind, it allows one to experience the world differently. Remember that we’re talking about art, something that is associated with right brain functionality and has always been considered emotional, if not spiritual.
Just as Sanskrit is considered the mother of all languages, Bharatanatyam, can be considered the mother of all dance forms. Given to the world by Sage Bharatha, it is a complete art form with poetry, visuals, music and drama. It brings together and aligns the body, mind and spirit. Verses from Natyashastra describe how the awareness progresses into alignment and alignment dissolves the mind and evokes devotion and culminates in Rasa – The essence.
This sublime, beautiful art form blends the aspects of grace, vigor, movement (Nrita) and expressions (Abhinaya) to experience life in its totality. It is an art form so perfect that it works synchronously in time and space, bringing out the nectar of the inner self… It travels through the dancer’s body, mind and emotions; an exploration of new dimensions and diverse processes. It is the celebration of the “Inner self”.
Himalayan School of Traditional Dance provides a platform to connect to oneself through dance, experience the joy while appreciating the nuances and aesthetics of the classical art form and progress towards alignment and inner transformation simultaneously.
“Dance is the nature of the universe,
Dance is our breath, in and out
Dance is bliss,
Dance is beauty
Dance is Shiva and Sakthi” – Mohanji