Art transcends all barriers and boundaries. With art there is no race, religion, age or colour; just the joy of rhythm. A joy that melds diversities and has the power to bring people together in one voice. The current Covid-19 pandemic is enough to daunt even the strongest, but dance with its unique power is already serving as a useful vehicle of hope and positivity to bring relief into a world that could be perceived as struggling under a huge cloud of uncertainty and gloom.
Dating back to history and ancient civilisations, dance has always been used in various ways, be it prayer, celebration or war. Today we are in a war of a different kind. The whole world is fighting one common enemy, the coronavirus. In times like these where people are forced to insulate themselves, dance and music are slowly becoming a common way to bring people together and cheer them on. The internet is full of free concerts, and celebrated dancers and artists are beaming out art from their living rooms, making the experience so much more real and personal. Just what the doctor ordered – to spread hope and reassurance. A lot of performances are also being shared on the internet as a way of keeping people engaged and positive. Aside from this, individuals and groups are sharing all kinds of dances.
It is amazing what the virtual world has done for us globally in making the world a smaller place. As the pandemic has pressed on, people have found innovative ways to come together. There have been dances of gratitude, dances with masks, dances that connect, as a way of encouraging people to dance their blues away.
Students who enrol in our dance classes, do so for various reasons. Many want to make a career in dance, some want to tone their bodies, while others want to get rid of the inhibitions of social dancing and just have fun. But one quest binds every student and that is that dance frees the mind and soul. According to a Harvard Health Review article, exercise, as in dance, can not only “promote chemical balance” but also “deepen the mind-body connection.”
I have seen students over the years feel relaxed and happy after a dance session. This is because during the class, stress levels dive and the endorphins take over and this makes the mind calm. It can be a hugely spiritual experience. When one dances, one connects to the music and to the self. In that one moment, you become one with yourself and the universe. It is no wonder that throughout history so many cultures have used dance as a way of meditation and connecting with the almighty. At a time like this, dance can also be seen as a way to meditate. In a way, dancing is many thing rolled in one – cheerleader, doctor, priest, entertainer and physical trainer.
The best part… everyone is exposed to some form of dance or the other, so taking the first step is just a small decision away. A decision to stay positive, happy and healthy and share that with others. You could take it on as a family drill or just dance by yourself in the safety of your own space. The key is to express yourself and let your spirit free. No need for perfection. Lock yourself into a room, or put on your headphones, play your favourite track and let your body flow. Just in letting go, you are in tune with yourself and that is perfection enough. Forget about being in step or whether you match up to anyone else- today you just dance for you.
You dance to celebrate life and the gift of being born. You dance with gratitude, love and trust knowing all will soon be well. The world is dealing with something larger than life and while we take the time to pause and think of all those suffering, we must also take the time to celebrate ourselves and others and turn this world of gloom and doom into one of hope, love and togetherness. Today the air is cleaner, the sky is bluer, the trees are greener and life all around is dancing a dance of celebration. What better time to dance than now?
Ashley Lobo is the founder and artistic director of The Danceworx Academy and Navdhara India Dance Theatre