At the recently held TEDx talks in Mumbai noted Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi dancer Ananda Shankar Jayant revealed how dance helped her fight the biggest battle of her life: cancer.
The Padma Shri awardee confessed that she had used the medium of dance to regain her positivity. It helped take away the drama and dreariness of a dreaded disease. She said dance ensured that cancer made just one page of the entire canvas of her life.
“The business of life is to challenge us. And every challenge is a super conductor that brings the universe into your space,” she said.
She encouraged audience members to ensure that each and every one of them nurtures a passion and makes it their core strength.
“Don’t malnourish your core centre,” she said. “Release your passion from compromise.”
No wonder then that Ananda joined a temple at the age of 4 to pursue her passion for dance. She went on to win many medals, awards and scholarships. But reality, of course, she admitted, has other colours. The expenditure of a dancer is more than their income. Due to this reason Ananda couldn’t make dancing her full-time job.
“Dance could feed my spirit but could it feed my body?” she asked.
So Ananda finished her graduate degree in Commerce (long distance), studied further and got selected to work for the Indian Railways. Therein too lay many challenges, some laughable, like her juniors who would persistently call her ‘Sir’, the fret of many a woman entering the male bastion.
“One has to have a career that lets you feed your passion,” she said.
“Choose passion not pension,” she added. “But ensure your pension so you don’t have to give up your passion.”
And she took what bureaucracy taught her – ideals like harmony and aesthetics – and released it into the chaotic world of dance.
“This balancing of what you want to do with what you need to do was crucial to me.”
She didn’t abdicate her inner self but made herself unique by using her passion. In this way her passion had a ripple effect on the world. She was able to marry her inner self with her outer self. It shows, as there is poetry in her words and dance in her movements.
“On my deathbed when life flashes before me in techni colour,” she signs off, “I want to say ‘That was an awesome ride.’”
Feature Image: Bharat Channels