This past weekend we celebrated Vijaya Dashami at the studio with youth and adult students and their families. Vijaya Dashami has a wide array of significance, but for students of the arts, we celebrate it as the beginning of a new year of learning. It is a time to remember what it takes to be a good student and cultivate those qualities within ourselves. Students perform a few steps of dance in front of their teacher to mark the first dance lesson of the year. Glimpse at some photographs from this beautiful community event.
As a part of our joint discussions on Saturday, I read aloud these reflections of mine on being a student and a teacher:
“We are all artists, we are born creative beings. Yet we are privileged to be students of the arts. It is no ordinary opportunity. We are fortunate to be on a journey where every step of the way, our creativity is nurtured, where our own true nature can shine forth, where we can be ourselves. This is what we get when we undertake the study of an art – the permission to express our creative humanity, our richly potent vitality, our ever abundant selves. This is a big deal. And an even bigger deal in a society that often stands in the way of those things.
But it is not always an easy path. Sometimes it requires courage. The courage to face the unknown, to try something you’re not good at, to stumble over an awkward dance step, failing again and again, but after much trial and error, we may master a simple movement and, if we dig deeper, we discover something beautiful. Isn’t that experience mirrored in the rest of our lives? Being a student of the arts is like being a student of life. There is a special way in which studying the arts parallel the unfolding of our lives. It is a never-ending, lifelong process, years and years of effort-ing and learning and experiencing the ups the downs and growing and reflecting and ultimately, creating what we want. What do we want out of life? May our artistic explorations help us find the answers.
Today we are gathered to recognize this special opportunity we have to study dance, to embark on another year of creative adventures in a communal spirit, to invoke the necessary qualities within ourselves to be successful students, and to seek our teacher’s guidance and blessings along the way.
Now what is a teacher?
Rachel Carson once said, “If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, the excitement, and the mystery of the world we live in.”
For me, being a teacher is a joyful companionship with you all. I get to share my passion with you, and in doing so, it intensifies my passion for this dance form and for life.
My knowledge becomes crystalized through teaching, and it leads to greater fervor and fascination for what I already know. With my students I can revel in that place of nuance, and see my humble insights transform you.
I get to be the lucky one, privy to each student’s steady unfoldment, I get to protect this safe space where mistakes and struggles are allowed, and where persistence and tenacity are kindled. I get to witness the thrill in your eyes when the light bulb turns on, when a breakthrough sends you soaring forward. Or sometimes, when you just need to take your mind off things and get in touch with your inner super fun being, I get to help that happen.
I am happy to be that person. It is an honor to play that role. I am so ever grateful to all my students, for the beautiful exchange we have before, during, and after every class.
Today I reinvigorate my dedication and diligence as a student of dance and of life. And I commit myself to being an even more giving and guiding force in your lives. Thank you for this beautiful opportunity.”
Written by Anjal Chande, October 2013