Bharatanatyam: an art form of the human body
- Divya Kunapuli, Ankeny, IO


January 4, 2007

(Divya Kunapali won the First Prize of 100$ in the Dance Essay Competition conducted by Cultural Centre of India, Ohio, on the topic "Why is being a dancer important to me.")

Blaring music and dynamic light surround my silhouette, a warped halo of ominous colors accentuating the restrained passion of my abrupt, powerful gestures. A thunderous bang resonates from my carefully bent feet, a sense of power emanating from my very pores. I summon my strength for my greatest achievement, my moment of glory, the heroes of humanity having fallen before my wrath, as pleas for reconsideration bombard my deaf ears. The melodious tune of the flute continues, my ears summoning the notes to travel to every part of my body as beads of sweat run down my forehead. A shooting pain erupts in my legs, and my arms feel like twigs, ready to break off at any given moment. The flute gets louder, accompanied by the distinct sound of the mridangam.

So shall be the final moments before I exit the stage gracefully, not a trace of pain or defeat in sight. A tranquil-like state takes over my body. Ignoring my assorted pains, I am in a complete and total oblivion.

I was once told that everything is meaningless, until you give it worth. For me, Indian classical dance (Bharatanatyam) has been my everything. In a world thriving on competition, chaos, confusion, and alienation, truly knowing the flow of life is a difficult task. But somehow, Bharatanatyam provides me with just that. It has the capacity to combat daily annoyances, rekindle old desires, and regain happiness. In the nine years of participating in this cultural and traditional art form, I have found a new meaning for it. It's not just about a performance; it is the expression of feeling in movement - an art form of the human body. As such, it is temporal; no performance is like the last. And once it is done, it can't be undone; it stays living, somewhere in the heart of the dancer.

Bharatanatyam allows for me to change from ordinary to enchanted. I transcend and become beautiful. I may be alone in my room, yet I am in a space outside of finitude where I move as a fairy to my own centric rhythm. I am truly connected with my being, both physically and mentally; tension is eased and fatigue is lifted, leaving me refreshed, aware, and receptive. I am connected to my life. I have been touched momentarily by indescribable joy. It is palpable and expansive. This is happiness.


Divya Kunapuli is a student of 12th grade at Ankeny HS in Ankeny, Iowa, USA. She learns Bharatanatyam from Hema Sharma, Nritya School of Dance.