Growing up in two cultures, I can travel from one end of the world to another in seconds, whether it is through a quick memory, movie, or cultural outing. Today I found myself transitioning back and forth as I taught dance class.
I have always loved to dance, and as you may have read in my previous blogs, the style I have learned is Kuchipudi (this is a classical Indian art form founded in and named after the village Kuchipudi. Though originally a dance form only meant for men, over the years it has spread and now many Kuchipudi dancers are females). After several years of training I did my Rangapravesham (a dance graduation) and now I have my own students. So every Friday night, at 6pm, the doorbell rings and three exuberant girls walk in, laughing and shouting cheerfully (their endless energy never ceases to amaze me)! The girls are in 3rd, 4th, and 8th grade and are American citizens whose parent emigrated from India less than 15 years ago. So while their accents clothing are completely American, they hold strong cultural ties to their Indian heritage.
As they walk down the stairs to the basement dance floor, within seconds, the girls go from talking about reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid or gossiping about school drama, to singing the words for their dances (Tham thathai thei hitha). Our conversations often switch from English to Telugu, as I explain the meanings of the songs, and the Hindu mythology associated with them. Today specifically, as I was teaching dance, the Wobble came up, and as soon as we hit the water break, I pulled up a YouTube video and we all learned how to wobble ‘properly’. Not only had we traveled from India to America in that moment, but we also traveled form thousands of years ago (when Kuchipudi first started) to today (with the pop song).
After an hour and a half of class, the girls trudged up stairs eager to eat snacks and M&Ms (their reward for a successful practice). As they ate, I opened up my snap chat to publicize my day’s events and talk to friends who live far away. The snap chat again brought me back to this time period and I made the quick transition from Telugu and dance music, to texting lingo and emojis.
Over the course of 2 hours I went around the globe and time traveled over three thousand years.