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“Where the Eyes Go…”

Just as in Yoga, Indian Classical Dance too has the concept of outer and inner. In dance the orchestration, the movements and the costuming are part of the outer life, just as asanas, kriyas and breathing techniques are in Yoga. However, more importantly, or perhaps more interestingly, is the hidden depth of consciousness that may present itself through the long term nurturing and devotion to the practice.

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Nine Nights of Dance

Navratri falls somewhere in September/October every year, depending on the moon, I remember celebrating it as a child in Zambia with the Gujrati community. Even though the festival is about worshipping the 9 forms of the Devi, fasting, and performing rituals, to me it meant only one thing – Garba. Garba is a gujrati folk dance that people come together to do during Navratri. “Nava” “ratri”, those “nine nights” were pure joy, non-stop hours of dance.

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Shiva, God of Dance

At every Bharatanatyam Indian classical dance lesson I took growing up, we opened the class standing, with the feet together, palms touching at the heart, elbows up. The teacher was sitting cross-legged on the floor facing us, palms together with closed eyes. Together, we would chant two verses. The first is a Shanti Mantra, “Sahana Vavatu…” familiar to many of us in the yoga world, as well as the following Dhyaana slokam in praise of Shiva, the God of Dance.

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From Dance to Yoga and Back

Six years ago, the sudden death of my husband’s aunt, a mentor both for him and me, left me uninspired, dried out, with no desire to dance, to feel and move that way. Reintegrating belly dance into my life after a long hiatus has been an interesting part of my journey. In 2001 my aunt gave me one of my first belly dance classes in Beirut. Her style excited me, drew me into dance – she was tribal, raw, and earthy. I was looking for a way to break free from the rigorous, classical Indian dance form that I had grown up with. There was a feeling of connectedness, of going within, and freedom that I accessed momentarily through her lens of this dance form.

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