Two months ago the universe called me back to the dance studio. I created a space for me at home and started slowly. First with just listening to old dance music, then sitting down and going through hand gestures and finally standing up and letting my body memory work its magic. It's incredible how if you don't think too much the body knows what to do and all you need to do is trust it and go along with where the movement takes you. I'm not going to lie, it was hard. My hands, feet and body felt very heavy. It was difficult to articulate and move with the ease I had a few years ago.
But I kept at it, social media played a huge part in this. I would post only 15 seconds of something, 15 seconds, it wasn't too long, I could still look good in 15 seconds. In 15 seconds you didn't see the hyperventilating, you didn't see the cramps, you didn't see the mistakes. When people asked for more, I made more videos. But then I realised that perhaps I needed to stop making videos with the old music. The old music was a thing of the past, I am now in the present. I don't belong to any dance company. I was free to dance to any tune I wanted to.
But how was I supposed to do this? I had no music to call my own. So I commissioned some items from India and spent 2 weeks learning these pieces. It was no easy feat. I had not learned items in over 6 years, but I leaped over the hurdles placed in front of me and succeeded in learning them. My body ached like it had never ached before, man...to be young again. But this pain was needed, it was needed to push me to my extreme so that I could heal and come back stronger.
What else was I going to do with the space, I thought. So I messaged a friend and asked her if she would like to spend an hour or two every fortnight just to bodyjam and do phrases of her old contemporary pieces. You know, just so I could keep my body moving and stir some creative juices.
One thing led to another and she asked me if I was interested in dancing with her for Tari 14, a dance festival hosted by ASWARA. Without thinking, I said yes. This friend was Rathi.
Rathimalar Govindarajoo was my very first teacher when I started dancing at the age of eight. I still remember the old bungalow in Titiwangsa, we were all standing in the porch when a girl walks in. She was 15 years old and my favourite dancer. She was so freaking sexy on stage. Those of you who have had the pleasure of watching her dance knows what I am talking about. She was like fireworks! Her quick, sharp movements full of power and yet soft and fluid like silk. I want to dance like her one day, 8-year old me silently wished.
So I jumped, like I always do, into the deep end not knowing what to expect. We started after the adi masam period, and it has been 2 months since then. Both of us did not know what we were going to create and we did not know what to expect, all we knew was that we were going to enjoy the process of creating and that this was going to be a fun project, OUR fun project.
We decided on the name 'rehab' because dance has always made us feel good. Call it therapeutic, but after every dance rehearsal, we'd always go home satisfied, fulfilled and relaxed. We also discovered in the process that the both of us were so similar yet polar opposites and thought that it would be interesting to play with this subject, almost like a parallel universe. Where I saw myself in her and her in me.
We premiere this piece next Thursday, November 13th at 5pm at ASWARA and it is hard not to be nervous. But this entire journey together has been nothing short of phenomenal. This would be my first time on stage since the kids and then it hit me. Rathi had no doubt in her mind that I would be able to dance. Her confidence in me is and will forever be one of the greatest gifts I have ever received.
I left Sutra in 2009 and have dabbled in and out of dance. I got married, had two kids and have not danced since then. And yet, this crazy woman thought of me and thought of doing something together. She drives to my house for every rehearsal, has the patience to layan my kids when they don't nap (we try to rehearse when the kids nap), and has just renewed my love for dancing and made me believe that I can still dance.
Rathi, I love you. I am so, so honoured to be sharing the stage with you and I am so happy that 'rehab' has been born out of so much love. To infinity and beyond...