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Why did I not dance?

By G. Balasubramanian

“Naattu... Naattu…” The speaker was aloud with the song. The dance floor was in flames. Many young boys were dancing to the fire and fury of the light and the noise… The RJ was adding fuel to the fire with his provocations.

“Nattu… Nattu...” several people raised their voice in tune with the song from the speaker and the dance floor were raising their voice with the lyrics.

“Nattu... Nattu..” the old and the young, the men and the women, the boys and girls alike were all raising their hands and their movements were meticulous and pretty! It was all action everywhere.

The floor was housing the energy of over two hundred people. And without holding it anywhere, it radiated the entire energy along with the light flashes to the audience!

I was just sitting at a distance in the cozy chair and watching.

I didn’t know why I did not go to the dance floor or even near to that. Not that I didn’t want to, but something restrained me from making some positive moves or exhibiting a positive intent to do so. No doubt, I loved that song. I have watched the dance on the television. I know it mesmerized the people and was inviting. I do not know whether it was exciting, tempting, motivating, catalyzing, or mentoring the people around.

Suddenly, one of my friends in his sixties, moved on to the floor and started moving his steps. There was a thunder of applause. He never felt his age. He never carried with him his position, his financial stature and social status. I could never imagine. I have never seen him dancing earlier. I did not know whether he had practiced the steps earlier or has ever gone to a stage for a dance. But then, he is a corporate guy. I know dance is a part of the several events of the corporate meet and they have a dance session usually before they have the dinner. So dance is not alien to his circle of operation. I was thrilled by the energy of that guy. After all, life is nothing but expression of energy. Isn't it?

Why did I have this view that as an old man I should not dance? Where did i get this perception from? I have seen several shows where people in their eighties enjoyed dancing. Then, what was preventing me from getting into the dance floor?

“Dance, when you’re broke open. Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in y'our blood. Dance when you’re perfectly free” said Rumi, the celebrated poet.

Why did I not walk into the dance floor? Was it fear of poor performance? Was it fear of few mocks by someone who knew dance better? Was it fear of being judged by those who have priestly approaches to life? What prevented me from getting into the dance floor? After all these are the basic life skills, I need to inherit to dance on a professional organizational set up?

“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching, Love like you’ll never be hurt, sing like there’s nobody listening, and live like it’s heaven on earth” said William W. Purke. Is he advising me to stay focused on my own self? Is he telling me that I am exclusively responsible for my happiness?

“Dance is only for girls and not for boys” -the words that my community used to say sixty years ago is still resounding in my ears. “If you start dancing, you will become feminine”- the message that was handed over to me by some conservatives did a cultural brainwash! I am not here to question the wisdom of the community that brought me like that. But I have valued their perspectives.

Circumstances have changed. I did not change with circumstances. Scores of my friends have changed. Why did not I? Does it show that I am a poor learner? Did I not have change management skills? Was I not ready to change with circumstances? Was my learning conditioned by social and cultural inputs? Am I a victim of a linear thinking culture? (Is it even fair for me to call that a linear thinking culture? Does it show my inadequacy of understanding of it? There could be many reasons why I did not go to the dance floor. I know that there are several people sitting in the galleries like me suffering with an inhibition to dance. ”Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance” says Dave Barry

As I grew up, the next message that shaped me was – “focus on your studies. Your music, dance and games will not get you a job. People will respect you only if you become an engineer or a doctor.” Words were whipping my interests telling me to be more disciplined and fall in line with what the society (the family) expected! And as for the schools in my days, they hardly brought any boys to the stage for dancing. It was all the business of girls! I sat watching the dance. I don’t know whether I was enjoying others dancing or regretting why I did not move to the floor for dancing! I have learnt from textbooks, I have learnt a lot from life, but I did not learn to dance anywhere. Do our textual learning processes create an inhibition to learn from dancing? What are the things I learn from dancing – a bit of maths, a bit of language, a bit of arts and aesthetics, a bit of peer collaboration and a bit of spatial intelligence?

Everyday as a young boy I used to go to the nearest Shiva temple and offer my prayers to Lord Nataraja who was showing a glimpse of his cosmic dance through the bronze statue carved by the sculptor. Probably, the Lord was dancing in the intellect of the sculptor giving him the needed motivation and passion. I saluted the Lord of dance, but not the dance itself!

“Ranjithame. Ranjithame.” the popular Tamil song was now on air. There was a smile on everyone’s face. Some of them started glittering in joy. I saw many middle-aged men and women sitting in their own chairs and responding with their movements. They could not resist being a part of the dance though something prevented many of them to get on to the stage. What was preventing them? And me? -

Culture? Belief systems? Misconceptions? Ego? Professional arrogance? Perceived Status? Spiritual teachings? Or a combination of all these? Whatever it be, I have not gone to the dance floor! And many like me! And there – the two little one’s dancing in great joy defined what happiness is all about! “And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” said Friedrich Nitz’s

Sometimes I do wonder that an over-bearing of intellectuality is a roadblock to some simple and beautiful things in life that makes you vibrant, energetic, and joyful! It makes one to sit on an ivory tower and look at people and things with a mischievous smile, if not contempt. “Let us read and let us dance - two amusements that will never do any harm to the world,” said Voltaire.

“Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains,” said Descartes. Yes, I have chained myself with some misconceptions. (If I am not responsible, who else are?). There is enough scope for dance in life -everywhere, at home, in the office, in entertainment centres, in privacy, in social gatherings and in all human habitats.

Life is just a dance. We need to be a part of it whether we like it or not. We need to shed all inhibitions that prevent us from dancing to some of the finest tunes of life. But it is important to understand what inhibits one from dancing on the floor.

I am going to explore this myth- the myth that held me up from dancing. It is a long journey. I will dance at every step as I walk through this journey. How about joining in every episode of this series? “ Let us have the pleasure of learning life through dance!