A persisting passion for dance

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By Farhin Lilywala

Every now and then, when I allow myself to, I can remember my arms and legs anxiously attempting to complete a sequence of movements awkwardly, yet determinedly. I remember the fast combinations and the uncertain steps finding their way from my head to my body, miraculously arranged in graceful movements. I can also remember how passionate I felt dancing at what was going to be my first recital.

These flashbacks are like dreams, silent whispers of the past written through the filter of untouched ideas that only fresh minds can encompass. Yet, every time I step on to a stage, every feeling of excitement and doubt rushes back and compels me to give everything I have into every performance. This makes each as equally rewarding as the first, even my most trying performance.

I have always been a dancer, but dancing for me extended only from my head to my toes. Two years ago, I was basically demanded to compose a dance for a group of people for Valentine’s Day. I had composed many a dance for my friends and myself; I thought it would be a similar ordeal, just with more people. Little did I know, I was in for a rude awakening.

I was faced with a mirage of challenges: the individual temperaments of a large group of people, varying dance skill sets, conflicting schedules, and the overall commitment to the dance. I was challenged first as an individual, second as a dancer, and most importantly, third as a leader.

My frustration reached the penultimate the night before our performance at our last rehearsal when certain members of the group continued belittling the choreography. I finally spoke up and gave them an ultimatum: they could either continue complaining about the existing routine and create a new one or they could stop talking and start rehearsing properly. Faster than I thought, all eyes were on me and everyone in their starting positions. At that moment, I learned that as a leader it is impossible to please everybody and as a dancer I could only compromise to a point.

I did my best to listen to and to help everybody. Why? Because I am a leader and whether it is my tenacious persona to rise and drag everybody up with me or my need to finish a job that I start, I will accomplish what I set out to do. However, this situation removed a veil from before my eyes; everyone could not be helped.

My spirit was broken, but then I remembered the reason why I accepted this role, something much more powerful than the egos of my group members: my appreciation for the art of dance. Dance was the only thing that kept me grounded when every other part of me was screaming to quit. It was and always will be dance that brings me back to reality. Dance allows my mind and body to transcend the realm of the physical into the metaphysical and beyond.

Keep in mind: what and if are two ordinary words, but put them together and they have the power to haunt for the rest of your life. What if? What if? What if I refused this dance performance? What if I gave up on the group members? In my situation, like in many situations, there are many of these questions. However, your job is to never let these questions go unanswered. I don’t know about you, but I would rather I regret doing something than not doing anything at all.

Contact Farhin Lilywala, news editor, at flilywal@jccc.edu.

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