Tag Archives: dancing

Is he really standing on a baby……..

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At first glance, this statue could be a little disturbing -I mean, really, this figure appears to be standing on a baby. Luckily, I know that this is Nataraja – the lord of the dance – Lord Shiva – and that the “baby” is really a demon. He is stomping out evil and preparing the universe for creation. And I how do I know this? Wikipedia of course. Here is more about the statue from my good friend Mr. Wiki (the rest of it is quoted directly) …..

The essential significance of Shiva’s dance at Tillai, the traditional name of Chidambaram, can be explained as[1]:

  • First, it is seen as the image of his rhythmic play which is the source of all movement within the universe. This is represented by the circular or elliptical frame surrounding the Lord.
  • Secondly, the purpose of his dance is to release the souls of all men from the snare of illusion.
  • Lastly, the place of the dance, Chidambaram, which is portrayed as the center of the universe, is actually within the heart.

To understand the concept of Nataraja we have to understand the idea of dance itself in Hinduism. Like yoga, dance is used to induce trance, ecstasy and the experience of the divine. In India, consequently, dance has flourished side by side with the austerities of meditation (as fasting, absolute introversion etc.). Shiva, therefore, the arch-yogi of the Gods, is necessarily also the Lord of the dance. Dancing is seen as an art in which the artist and the art s/he creates are one the same, thought to evoke the oneness of God and creation.

Shiva Nataraja was first represented thus in a beautiful series of South Indian bronzes dating from the tenth and twelfth centuries A.D[citation needed]. In these images, Nataraja dances with his right foot supported by a crouching figure and his left foot elegantly raised. A mirrored posture, where his right foot is raised, represents Moksha.

A Nataraja stone relief, Kailash Temple, Ellora Caves

In the compact spiritual texts of divine knowledge, the holy Geeta, there are three basic guna: Satvic, Tamsic and Rajsic. These combine with each other, and the life forms are created as a result of this divine activity. These life forms remain devoid of prana (breath), until the Divine entity infuses them with life. The Geeta says the division of the Divine entity is ninefold, of which eight can be known by humans, but the ninth is eternally unexplainable and hidden and secret. These eight divisions are the elements, Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Akash, Mana, Buddhi, Ahamkara.

Nataraj is a visual interpretation of Brahm and a dance posture of Lord Shiv. It is the representation of reality at the time of cosmic destruction. We being life forms, cosmic destruction would mean the disappearance of all life. Our solar system remains in perfect balance at all point on the axis of time and space. The half moon shown in the hand of Nataraj is a symbol only. The fall of the moon would result in cosmic destruction.

The third eye on the forehead of the Lord is a symbol. The serpent wrapped around the neck is a cosmic entity, just as Shiv. Other vedic texts mention a cosmic serpent called Kundalini, present in every living form at the base of the spinal cord. Numerous myths confirm Kundalini’s presence and Cosmic Dangers Associated with its arousal. More abstract and invisible divine energy centres, called Chakras, are associated with its Rise.

Sugarplum fairies danced in my head…

This weekend Flower and Angel danced in the Nutcracker. It was called “Nutcracker in a Nutshell – All Jazzed Up.” If you ever get a chance to see this version – do – it’s shorter – it’s sassier (translation – not too heavy on the ballet) – it’s a win all around.

Flower was a Hip Hopper (I told you, it’s not your grandmother’s Nutcracker)

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and a Mirliton (ribbon dancer – don’t worry, I had to look it up when they announced her part – you’re not alone on this one).

Angel was a Bon Bon and a Chinese (some things are still recognizable).

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And of course, they were great – and blah blah blah. I will not bore you with every little detail of their performance – I have the DVD if you insist on seeing just how great they were. However, …

My girls are similar in a lot of ways. But, this weekend I was privy to another one of their differences.

Apparently at the end of each performance, all of the dancers line up at the bottom of the stage to sign autographs. And, many of the people there knew just what they were doing. (Something about tradition – after every show – shhhhh, don’t tell the newbies) Clearly, I did not know about this little “after show” arrangement. DANG! Bear and I just sort of sat in our seats as the crowds dispersed and wondered what in the heck Angel was still doing up on stage. Angel was standing near the row of dancers in the front who were signing autographs – she stood there very patiently waiting for someone, anyone to ask her to sign their program.

Bueller, Bueller.

Not realizing what was happening, I hurried her to get moving.

Now, it’s not that I don’t love the Nutcracker and it’s certainly not that I did not love absolutely every second of them being on stage – I did! But, I also sat in the parking lot for hours with a very bored Bear while they practiced every Saturday afternoon for the past 3 months and then I sat through the 4+ hour dress rehearsal. I even arrived an hour and a half early for both performances to make sure I had great seats with my general admission ticket (those of you who know me can stopped laughing now).

And then I sat through performance number one – knowing full well that performance number two was on the horizon. I clapped until my hands hurt – I took a million pictures – my heart swelled with pride – and when it was done, well, I was sort of ready to go home. We’re doing this all again tomorrow, right? Let’s go.

Angel cried. OMG she cried. “No one even got the chance to get my autograph.” Huh? Really? Sweetie, you were the best Bon Bon ever on this planet and a great Chinese dancer, but, honey, most people want to get autographs from Clara and the Nutcracker and the Snow Fairy – you know, the leads – aka, the stars of the show.

“No, mommy, they would have wanted mine too if I had just been there long enough.” Okay then.

Forget the 529 for college savings – it’s all going to the therapy fund as of now.

She cried again going to bed. A lot. I felt terrible and a little amazed by her insistence that the world had been cheated. Note to self – cancel self-esteem classes. Instead, sign Angel up as the instructor.

Now, Flower, she came down right after the performance and did not even try to sign autographs. She didn’t see the point. She did not want to get or give any signatures on her program – thank you very much. It was very fun – but I am done here and there is a Burger King cheeseburger with my name on it somewhere close by. Let’s go. That’s my girl!

Lucky for me, Sunday’s performance was attended by grandparents. Now, I know why they are called “grand”. I shared my little story with them and they stepped up to the plate stage! When the show was over, Flower and Angel came down to thank them for coming and they, with pen in hand, asked for their autographs. They both complied with big smiles on their faces. It was kind of magical. Definitely worth the price of admission and the hour and a half wait in line and the practices on Saturday and learning how to put their hair in an “official” Nutcracker-worthy bun and, and, and …..

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Afterwards, Flower went to change. Apparently she felt sufficiently famous.

Angel – well, she marched her little Bon Bon self right back up on that stage – and wouldn’t you know it, two people (without any prodding from me whatsoever) asked her for her autograph. Little ole Angel with her little ole Bon Bon part. No more tears were shed. By her or me.