Despite being forced off the stage for years due to scoliosis – a crippling medical condition – Bhavya Vijayan had spent the entire COVID-19 lockdown period practising dance at full pelt. More than just perfecting her skills, the 35-year old classical dancer from Attingal in Thiruvananthapuram regards the experience as “an ode to freedom of movement.”
A natural talent, Ms. Vijayan took training in classical dance at a young age and joined the Kerala Kalamandalam for a diploma in Mohiniyattam at the age of 15. It was at the dance school that an asymmetry in her posture was first spotted. She was then diagnosed with an ‘S-shaped curve’ in her spine.
“It requires more than technique to excel in classical dance. A dancer’s body must be in perfect alignment, from the neck, through the hip and to the toes. Being afflicted with scoliosis meant I was set to miss out on dance for the rest of my life,” she recalls.
She wore corrective braces for years, supported by physiotherapy. Defying severe body pain, she continued to learn dance, rehearsing for hours every day.
By the time she turned 18, Ms. Vijayan’s spinal problem rather stopped progressing and she thought her scoliosis would not worsen. The troubles, however, had just begun.
A couple of years after bearing her first child, Ms. Vijayan developed acute pain on her right knee. A follow-up examination confirmed that the spinal curve had actually grown to 48% and the doctors once again insisted on her giving up on dance.
The positive attitude, however, was not lost on her. On the advice of Ranjith Unnikrishnan, an orthopaedic expert, she underwent a corrective surgery in June 2017.
Just six months after the operation that lasted about 10 hours, Ms. Vijayan returned to the art scene with a performance at the Guruvayur temple. During the lockdown, she shifted base to Kottayam with her husband and two kids and launched her own dance school.
Ms. Vijayan now uses her experience to inspire young women who suffer from scoliosis and conducts awareness sessions at educational institutions. “Several women who suffer from the same condition approach me with questions about leading a married life and bearing children and so on. Narrating to them how I defied the odds and continue to pursue a happy life reassures them,” she says.