Recently I have not been feeling very motivated to engage much and post on social media platforms. My apologies on those who have been faithfully following me around since years, on Facebook and Instagram, I don’t want to let you down but recently it did not feel right to me somehow. Anyway as I was looking through my phone from time to time I landed on the beginning of the year, all the #hashtag 10yearchallange circulating on social media platforms. With people posting pictures of themselves today and photos of themselves 10 years ago. There have also been all those who were getting really annoyed about this “trend” and responding with 10 years ago tragically climate change or war zones before and after pictures. Anyway I somehow enjoyed seeing older pictures of my friends or people I follow, maybe because they are a reminder of how life changes and moves. So I started digging out an old hard drive in search of some 10 years vintage treasures. And there I found a video of my last Odissi dance performance. Wow and suddenly I was transported in time at a moment where my life was about to take a whole new direction, when I was at a crossroad that was going to change everything.
Odissi is a form of classical Indian dance and learning it has been one of my biggest passions. It’s a long story but when I first arrived in India in my early twenties I feared that I may be already too old for learning a classical dance form. Nevertheless I searched for teachers and after overcoming my own inner resistance started training in Odissi both in France and India with various dance masters. It is a dance that is very graceful but can also be hard on the body and I suffered all sort of pains an aches in the process. After a particular intense 1 month training in Mumbai in 2004 I went to Goa for a holiday and that’s where I ended up signing up for my first yoga TTC because I had such bad back pain from training full on. For a few years I stopped dancing and focused just on yoga therapy to heal myself from the back injuries and started teaching yoga full time in the centre I did my training at.
When I felt more stable and balanced thanks to yoga the passion of Odissi dance started to spark up again and this time I was able to progress much better and being steadier. I started to take classes regularly and by the time I was thirty I was training almost every day with my teacher in India as I was living there. I was doing my yoga practice in the morning and teach a 3 hours yoga class have lunch, sleep for 45 min and go to dance class and sweat like hell and go to bed in completely exhausted. In Indian dance you hit the floor with the sole of your feet to the beat of the drums and this creates an amazing connection and grounding in your body with the earth element. Also my mind was full of the rhythms and songs that I would learn by heart. If I was learning a sweet piece like Krishna being playful with the Gopies my day was filled with that sweet and playful energy. And then on the opposite if I was learning a dance piece of Shiva getting angry and dancing and destroying the evil demons I would feel that fire burning inside of me. It was all about embodying those stories, living them from the inside they inhabited me completely on all levels. The songs felt like mantras that would help focus my mind on the here and now.
At some point I organised a performance with my teacher and also several other dance students at the yoga centre I was part of. This was such a big thing for me. I remember wanting it to be perfect and training even more hours during the months before the event. That evening was a total success. Everybody loved the performance and complimented us all. But something in me was feeling really empty inside. I was questioning if it was really for me to be a performer. And also I realised that if I wanted to continue I would need to commit to dance even more fully, that doing it half of my day was not going to be enough. It just became clear that I needed to choose. Also I felt the atmosphere between dancers very tensed, with jalousies and competiveness and that was another point of doubt in me. What had made me fall in love with the dance was the simple and pure joy of learning it, it was like yoga required my full attention and presence I treated it like a mediation and a spiritual practice. But it started to dawn on me that it was not the kindest on my body. So as strange as it may sound, after that performance I never danced Odissi again. It was like my body did not want to do it any longer and from one day to the other what had been my biggest passion just faded away like old petals on a withered rose. That performance was the final moment of full expression of my love for this dance and then I walked away from it, never once looking back. This video I had not seen for 10 years. But now seeing it again after so long, with more detachment, it felt beautiful, like a celebration of somebody I was, a completely different person, a lifetime ago.