Oberlin Blogs


November 8, 2010

Zoe McLaughlin ’11

Last year around this time, I danced for the Diwali festival that Shansi and the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life held. This year, I was asked to dance again, and since my Bharatanatyam teacher is back from her year abroad, I said yes. Last year I did a straight classical piece but this year we decided to do a fusion piece.

I've probably mentioned this before, but I'll say it again for those of you just tuning in: anything that is not classical dance makes me nervous. I've taken modern dance classes in my time--I've taken several modern dance classes--and every single one has terrified me. The fusion piece terrified me, too, and led me to ask a lot of questions during rehearsals. I was also prone to saying things like, "No, you have to tell me exactly where my feet and hands go in the turn, I can't just turn." They didn't always tell me, though, so I admit that at times I automatically reverted to my ballet training. But if you tell me that you saw me sutanu out there, I will deny it.

The dance went well, though, despite the fact that I felt like a fool through most of it. The really good thing about the dance was that there was a story that I could latch on to. It was much easier to perform unfamiliar steps when I knew that I was Radha and that I was angry at Krishna for flirting with other girls.

psychedelic, interpretive, artsy photos by Amy Huang

Besides our dance, there was also a brief explanation of the holiday and a sitar performance by Hasu Patel, who I also happen to have studied Indian-style violin with. She played two ragas, one of which I'd worked on before. It was exciting to hear that one played the way it's supposed to be. (My attempts at mimickry on the violin aren't quite up to par.)

The night finished with Indian food and a dance party to Bollywood music. Unfortunately, only my dance teacher and I really participated in the dance party side of things, but it was fun anyway.

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Coming up next time: Zoë registers for her last semester of classes at Oberlin, ever. That's almost as terrifying a thought as modern dance classes.

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