Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Performance Gene

I definitely did not inherit the performance gene in my family. I have cousins who sing and dance so well that I find it hard to believe that we are related sometimes. While my childhood was isolated, they had (and continue to have) exposure to many people within their cultural and religious worlds. Part of me is glad not to have the pressures to fit in with a community that can be extremely judgmental, but another part of me knows that the experience of performance and exposure to a variety of people at a young age can be beneficial to social development.

I saw the benefits of having the performance gene recently with one of my cousins as she danced to a packed, inadequately air conditioned theater. She had the usual jitters associated with performing live in front of family and friends, but she held herself with such poise as the theater remained hot. It wasn’t so bad for me, because the ceilings were quite high and I remained seated with everyone else as I fanned myself constantly. My cousin had the stamina and the discipline to perform dance after dance, and make it look effortless.

My cousin is trained in the classic dance from of Bharatanatyam, which originates in Southern India, which she has been part of it since she was five years old. The dance recital, or Arangettam as it is called in my parents’ native language, usually takes place after years of training with a dance guru; it is like a final exam and graduation all in one. I was completely ignorant of this aspect of the classical Indian dance world my cousin has been in until the day of her Arangettam, when I saw her hard work pay off before my eyes. I am not sure I would have had the discipline and passion she has for dance, even if I had the opportunity to take classes as a child.

Do you have the performance gene? If so, do you think it gives you an advantage over those who do not?

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