2018 has been a fun, enriching year of art, growth and love. As the new year begins, I wanted to take a walk down memory lane and consolidate my experiences and lessons from the past year.
I spent the first half of 2018 focusing on training. I was in India for 3 months out of the first 6 months of the year in Bangalore training with my guru, attended the Las Summer Intensive and spent blissful days with my Raadha Kalpa dance fam. I don’t really get any family/leisure time when I go to India to train and that’s usually a choice I make. It’s something I know I will continue to do specially when I go to learn and I’m grateful to have a family that understands and supports this. I enjoy being pushed (getting ass-whooped), learning and getting everything I need under one roof and not having responsibilities beyond showing up to class and practicing.
Around spring, my family came over to the US to spend time with me and it was heart warming to let them have a glimpse of my life here. It filled me with immense joy to be able to share my experiences, happiness with my parents and give them an insight into my new world.
I spent a lot of time working on my solo work “Maathe” and presented two pieces as a work in progress in June. I had a great time learning what it took to create meaningful traditional repertoire, something I haven’t done since I was a teenager. I am looking forward to more choreography, more feedback and presenting the complete production hopefully this year.
The second half of 2018 I decided to stay put in the Bay Area. I wanted get off my ass and finally open myself up to life in the US (after 1.5 years of living here) Up until this point I have not spent more a few months at a stretch here without running off to India. I guess some part of me kept assuming I would move back to India soon and I didn’t make a proper effort to really take initiatives here. It was the side of me that had gotten accustomed to a certain way of life back in India and didn’t want to let go. It’s not like I was not doing work or performing in the Bay Area. But I know I was giving it only about 20% of what I could, and not being entirely present.
I have always told myself that I had to be a certain way and do certain things to be a dancer. I had a projection of what my life should look like and a defined path I “had” to follow. I dreamt of how my future should look, how my dance should grow and I expected to somehow continue along the same path despite any changes that come my way (sounds silly when I write it down). It has been really hard for me to accept that moving to a new place and being put in a new situation means my projection had to shift. I can still work towards the end goal but the path and pace is no longer in my control. I had to give in and work with my circumstances rather than constantly fight against it. I had to trust in myself and see where life takes me.
With this realization, I gave myself to this “new” place fully, what followed was a wonderful array of new collaborations, performances, organization, teaching and all the madness that comes with being a dancer that I so dearly love. It has been the most major shift in mind for me this past year. And it essentially shaped the entire second half of my 2018. It has given me new friends, opportunities and a small nudge pushing me along and letting me know that I can still hang on to my dreams. It has taught me that there is no defined right path, it’s only what you make for yourself. And sometimes, all you need to do is stop hoarding the past and make some space for new things to find a place.
I also did a Iyengar Yoga course this year and met some of the kindest, most genuine people I will ever know. The whole experience has been humbling, eye opening and a reason for me to really introspect on my attitude and approach to people and life. It has showed me the true meaning of empathy. I look forward to pursuing and continuing this practice in the years to come.
I ended 2018 on a high with so many back to back performances followed by a long vacation in Kauai with Sarvesh learning to simply be in the moment, leave my phone aside, do adventurous things I normally wouldn’t like jumping into the ocean, going into a waterfall, climbing rocks and crossing rivers (My definition of adventure is different from yours – baby steps).
2018 has been the year I have allowed new things, experiences and people into my life. I have so many wonderful memories to look back at with joy only because I finally opened my heart to them. I associate everything with emotion (over images, smells, sounds, memory, etc) – When I look back at 2018, the biggest feeling I get is that of liberation. This is been the year where I have embraced change, gained a positive attitude to life and I look forward to taking the new me into 2019.