After going to lab on Sunday, I got to go to my first real dance class in 3 years.

I began learning classical Indian dance forms when I was five. I had always wanted to dance, and living in India for a few years, intrigued me about the unique art forms I saw. As I began my dance career, I realized that dance would not only be a fun and disciplining outlet for me, but also a way for me to maintain cultural ties with my heritage.

When I turned 9, my dance journey took a new twist. I began a new form of classical Indian dance called Kuchipudi. I immediately fell in love with the art form. My teacher, Dr. Chitra Akkor, taught in a strict, structured manner, but also cultivated my passion for the art form. Under her guidance I did my Rangapravesham when I was going into 8th grade. Unfortunately, the day after I finished my Rangapravesham she moved to New Hampshire for a career development opportunity.

Since then I have lacked proper instruction in my dance. I have attempted to stay in touch with dance by teaching my own students, learning dances from videos, performing, and infrequent classes with master dancers. But the last time I had a master class was during a visit to India three years ago.

A few weeks ago, my mom got an email informing her that professional dancer Shoba Natarajan, was coming to Iowa City for one Sunday and running a trial class. Needless to say, when I found out, I was thrilled. I practiced daily for the week leading up to Shoba Natarajan’s arrival.

When the day finally arrived, I wore my traditional garb and set out, slightly apprehensive. When I met her, she promised to fine tune my foundations and a few of my dances in the time she had. I forgot the sheer joy I experience when I am in a professional dance class amongst other students. I had also forgotten the intensity of dance classes and was initially thrown off by her astoundingly fast pace.

Just a few steps into the 2 hour practice, I was practically dripping sweat. Despite the exhaustion and fatigue that the dance class induced, I was unimaginably happy because Shoba Natarajan was able to catch and pinpoint the subtle differences I could make to add maturity and perfection to my dance. As we worked on the foundations, I learned new analogies and stories that I could use to help my students perform the steps with more grace. She showed me that simply changing the angle of a step by a few degrees can affect the grace the step embodies. She concluded the class by telling my mother that I had a lot of potential waiting to be uncovered. Shoba Natarajan also invited me to come to her dance studio to come and take classes any time.

Walking out of that class I felt energized. The atmosphere, clothing, and dance made me nostalgic about when I when I had first begun learning dance. I really miss having regular dance classes. Despite this longing, my passion had only increased, and I am now determined to continue dancing and make it work!



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