Have you ever watched a dance performance, feeling mesmerised by the beauty and grace of the art form? The dancer may have made it seem completely easy and flawless, that no one notices the amount of hard work that goes into a particular performance.
While it remains a side passion for many, there are many dance enthusiasts who have successfully transformed their passion into a profession, and one good example would be Datuk Ramli Ibrahim, our very own Malaysian dance icon.
Despite graduating university with a degree in mechanical engineering, his keen interest in the field of arts influenced him to pursue a career as a professional Odissi and Bharathanatyam dancer.
I am a Bharathanatyam dancer myself, and I started lessons seven years ago. As my passion grew stronger, I decided to enrol myself in professional dance training sessions, but little did I know that my journey as a young dancer would involve many challenges. However, with those challenges came some of the greatest lessons I learnt in life.
The initial training period for a dancer who lacks physical fitness can be a total nightmare. It is a tough process, and a dancer’s struggle in attaining perfection may sometimes lead to demotivation. We may be left feeling like we’re never good enough, but this is where the role of perseverance comes in.
Never compromise on the consistency of your efforts regardless of where you are in terms of progress. A promising dancer is one who never fails to believe in their own capabilities and pushes beyond limits, trying to be better than they currently are. As dancers practise more and get better at their art, they will realise the value of perseverance.
In other words, practising dance is also a practice in maintaining a strong willpower, and once we learn that, nothing can stop us from facing the bumpy roads in life.
As a creative course, dance requires a deep theoretical understanding. Experimenting with different perspectives of dance contributes to our knowledge of the art form, as well as shapes our personality.
We get to express our emotions in the form of dance, and it is just one way of validating ourselves as humans. It is also where a sense of individuality is created as we learn to experiment and create our own unique identity.
Dance, as my passion, has truly enabled me to accept and love myself for who I am. After spending all these years in dance lessons, it has strengthened me by making me recognise and embrace my flaws, as well as unlearn my fears, thus improving myself.
Living in a fast-paced world, we rush around so much that we may fail to stop and look back on the journey of life, and forget to love and appreciate who we are and what we do.
Dance is not just about doing what we like; it is about making connections between our passion and life, where we define who we are and feel great for it.
So, here’s the trick. Take a break from all that you’ve been doing. Just breathe in and feel happy. Take some time to discover your passion and interests. Experiment life in such a way that it creates a balance between your life and your personality while you embrace your flaws and unlearn your fears in life.
The instructions from a dance instructor often come in the form of counting to the beat of a song. The mirror is a tool to observe and improve your movements, while music is the language to a dance.
Dance teaches us to appreciate silence – dancers learn to talk less and listen more.
Traditional dances such as Bharathanatyam are often worshipped as a spiritual art form, and the mental preparation for a Bharathanatyam dancer is such that the mind has to be free from all worldly thoughts as we learn to embrace the present moment.
Through dance, I learnt to calm my mind, focus and look into myself, thus making that connection between my mind and heart to the nature of the human body.
Life will hold a new meaning when we learn to observe and reason on things that occur around us with a calm and healthy mind. When the going gets tough, take on those challenges calmly and treat it as a life experience.
Be it a hobby or a profession, dance is a never-ending process of learning. Bharathanatyam, ballet, hip-hop or even street jazz, it all leads back to one common lesson: There is never perfection. We travel through a continuous path of learning, gaining great values along our journey.
Just like that, life too is a journey of growth and experience. The lessons you learn along the way are opportunities for you to grow and turn your dreams into reality.
Perhaps that is the key to a happy life.