Women are dancing their way to svelte bodies

A group of women is busy talking nineteen to a dozen in a corner. Their teacher comes in and soon they sway in time to the beat of the music, their expressions and the use of mudras bringing tales from the Puranas to life.

Learning a dance form seems like the ‘in’ thing these days as more and more women are stepping into dance classes for Bharatanatyam and Mohiniyattam. And age does not seem to be a bar. There are women in their thirties as well as those in their fifties and sixties registering for the classes.

Ashwathy B. Nair had learnt dance when she was a child. Although she enjoyed dancing, she could not pursue it in earnest due to various reasons. Afflicted with various ailments, she decided to join a Mohiniyattam class two years ago. She now feels much better. “In fact, my family teases me about not complaining of aches or pains when I dance,” says Ashwathy who works at the Secretariat.

Renju Chandran joined a dance class in the hope of losing those extra pounds. “A friend of mine dragged me to dance class as she needed company and I was hooked. Starting the day with a good workout leaves me feeling satisfied and I have managed to tone my body,” says Renju, an employee at Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre.

Meera Nair, assistant professor at Asian School of Business, too sees dance as a means to stay in shape. Meera went to enrol her son for western dance lessons when she noticed that there were classes for traditional Indian dance forms. “As the class in Mohiniyattam coincided with my son’s dance class, I decided to register. Instead of joining a gym or going for walks, I decided to dance my way to health. Besides, being a part of a group keeps me motivated,” she says.

The trend of women learning or resuming dance lessons is at least five years old and is growing strong, according to Girija Chandran of Regatta Dance and Music School. “I began the first batch for women students in 2009 after a programme I organised for a group of women for their Old Students' Association reunion. Some of them requested I start a class for women and I obliged. The oldest student in my class is 65,” she says.

While Ashwathy A. Nair of Lakshya Dance School has home makers, working women and retired professionals in her dance class, Anjitha Sankar of Sree Vidya Kalaniketan has mostly home makers in hers.

Most of the women in the class, say the teachers, have learnt dance but had to discontinue because of marriage and family responsibilities. Others have always wanted to learn dance but could not, due to various reasons.

While Girija and Ashwathy teach the students classical dance, Anjitha teaches semi-classical steps.

The teachers also add that although most of the students join the classes in the hope “of staying fit”, a passion for dance is what drives them to enrol in the first place. “I only accept students who have an interest in dance. Fitness comes automatically once you start dance. Those who haven’t danced earlier may start the classes with reluctance. However, once they get into the rhythm and understand the moves, they are eager to learn. An hour of dance a day is all one needs to stay fit and active,” says Ashwathy as Anjitha chips in saying: “Dance is a great means of fitness and the best thing about it is that you don’t realise you are working out. It is also a source of meditation.” So, what are you waiting for? Dance on, its food for the body and soul.