Indian Dancers Talk About Hurdles, Female Sexuality And More This World Dance Day


Out of the countless art forms that’ve existed over centuries, dance sits right atop the pyramid and is vastly loved. Proven to burn calories, strengthen muscles and improve balance, giving your body that shake yields more benefits than you can imagine. But what we lack in cognising is the emotional aspect of how dance facilitates in shaping you beyond the physical. This World Dance Day, we spoke with Anjana Bapat and Meher Malik – both dancers who’ve successfully carved a niche with their unique set of talents alongside their yearning to squash stereotypes.


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A post shared by Anjana Bapat (@anjanabapat)

When asked about her early days, belly dancer extraordinaire Anjana Bapat muses, “When I decided to get into dancing professionally, my instructor who has now become my boss only looked at dance and how well you do it. Hence, I did not face any size based discrimination. I do know of people first hand, who’ve been heartbroken basis the rejection they faced for being too big. The big names in the industry would refuse to accept dancers who were bigger than a certain size as they wouldn’t fit the image of the company and requirements. So they would get a backend job or worse, were outright asked to leave.”


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A post shared by Anjana Bapat (@anjanabapat)

News to no one, the dance industry, like others in the show business has had its fair share of problematic ideals. But it’s not only the professional arena at fault. When folks who are a part of your daily life contribute to the mockery basis your size, it’s a sad scenario overall. She adds, “As for taking it up as a hobby also, there’s a lot of shame and mental block. People tend to mock you with phrases like ‘stage toot jaayegi’ (the stage will break). And people end up internalising the shame, given it’s so rampant in society and this script of ‘I won”t be able to do it’ keeps running in your mind out of the fear of people laughing at you. Dance is actually a free space, it’s yours to express the way you want to. One needn’t be the best to enjoy it. But the mental block which comes as a gift from society is one of the biggest hurdles that keeps people away from their passions in general.”


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A post shared by Meher Malik (@meherbanjaran)

Meher Malik is all about harnessing the power of the divine feminine by tapping into one’s existing sensual energies with bellydancing and sacred work movement. The purpose of her work over the years has closely been tied to women’s overall health and wellness. Throwing some light on the origins of bellydancing, she states, “Bellydancing as a dance form is originally the dance of the womb – passed on from mother to daughter to prepare the womb for birth. When this dance form was done ritualistically, the to-be mother would be in the centre when going into labour and all her sisters would drum and dance around her. And it’s believed that the positive reinforcement of feminine energy made labour an orgasmic process for the mother. Now post motherhood, whether you’ve had a vaginal birth or a C section, things are going to change. The way you experience sex changes. The way you feel about your body changes. But bellydancing and sacred feminine embodiment dances are all about reclaiming that sensual essence in a new way.”


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Motherhood is said to be responsible for opening up your heart chakra but given the demanding nature of the role, a woman is more often than not susceptible to losing touch with herself. Her sexual life might go for a toss and sometimes even her career as well. In a bid to tackle this, Meher adds, “When you make it a habit to reconnect with your body everyday, you also bring that to your child. Birth can be quite a traumatic experience, especially if one hasn’t been deeply connected with one’s body. And so what dance does, is sort of shed these layers of trauma. When I realised the capacity of my body to do something so big and then heal from it – I realised it’s true potential. And the one thing that has supported me and hundreds of mothers who’ve been on this journey with me is dance and movement. It’s only through the body, you end up accessing the power of movement and in turn, end up healing yourself.”

Alright, I guess it’s time to finally book that dance session I’ve been pushing off for so long.

Also Read: From Revenge Dress To Revenge Body, Everyone Has An Opinion On The Choices Women Make After A Breakup

- Digital Fashion Writer


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