Bollywood dance- a unique force of unity

We recently attended a Bollywood dance showcase at my daughter’s university. It is a dance group that my daughter co-founded a few years ago with a friend. I am still amazed that a Bollywood themed club could become so popular in a small college in Virginia. What is even more fascinating is that all of it’s members are not Indians or even Asians. They have students of many colors choosing to learn how to dance ‘Bollywood’ style!

Dance is an integral aspect of most cultures. Is it any surprise then that the Hindus have a god of dance?

His name is Nataraja, which when translated literally means lord, or king, of dance. Nataraja is a form of of Shiva, the God of destruction.

What is interesting is that Nataraja is seen as performing both the cosmic dance of creation as well as the dance of destruction. Destruction is an essential aspect of creation. One simply has to observe nature to understand that without the natural destruction that occurs in the Autumn and Winter one would not experience the beauty of creation and rebirth in the Spring and Summer.

But this idea of creation and destruction runs even deeper for some Hindus.

They believe that Nataraja, during his cosmic dance of destruction, destroys weariness and negative perspectives. It is only then that positive energy can surge through and allow us to rebuild our world again.

However, the concept that resonates even more deeply with me, regarding the symbolism behind this god of dance, is one that I learned early in life. I remember being told that the only art form which did not allow for the separation of the creator, from their creation, was dance.

Just think about it. You can listen to music without ever seeing the musician. You can admire a painting without ever knowing the artist. You can enjoy a culinary masterpiece without ever meeting the chef.

But, you cannot see, look at, experience or enjoy a dance without the dancer. Dancers are an integral, irreplaceable aspect of their art form.

So also with Nataraja. He represents the undeniable truth that God cannot ever be separated from His creation. He is the dancer and the universe is his cosmic dance. It has a beat. It has rhythm. It has movement. It is beautiful. And it is one with God.

And, that is what I saw when I watched this college Bollywood showcase. I saw so many colors. I saw so many cultures. I saw so many varied backgrounds. But, they were all performing as one. Their creation was one. Their unity was heartwarming.

They symbolized what it meant for God and his very many creations to be one. And they did it thru the medium of Bollywood dance. Who would have thought that this was possible in a small town in Virginia, USA?


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Posted in Cultural unity, Gods, Shiva
22 comments on “Bollywood dance- a unique force of unity
  1. athenenoelle says:

    Bollywood is super cool! I love those movies! They are so sweet, and so innocent.

  2. athenenoelle says:

    I adore this part that you wrote: “I remember being told that the only art form which did not allow for the separation of the creator, from their creation, was dance.”
    Having danced my whole life, I know this to be true.

    • onehindu says:

      I am so very glad you enjoyed it 🙂
      I love to dance too and I’m thrilled that my daughter and I have that in common. What kind of dance do you do?

      • athenenoelle says:

        Oh my! Where do I begin?! I started in Ballet, then I got into the Dunham technique, which is a combination of Ballet technique and African and Caribbean dances. Also, Flamenco, Senegalese, Bellydancing, North African folkloric dances, Jazz, Modern, Hip-Hop, Hula…so many kinds of dancing. But I love Indian dancing too. I’ve always wanted to try, but it is very intricate isn’t it? It is a truly earthy, celestial, gorgeous form of dancing.

      • onehindu says:

        Wow! You sound just like my daughter- she has tried so many forms of dance too- from ballet and tap to hip hop, ngoma and the flamenco… Kindred spirits! Indian dance has so many forms- but yes it can be extremely earthy- you should definitely try it someday soon- I’m sure you will be great!

      • athenenoelle says:

        Wow! She sounds like quite a blessing. You are lucky to have each other!

      • onehindu says:

        Thank you- yes she is a true blessing 🙂

  3. dollybose says:

    Dear aunty really been thinking of you for the past few days a lot….enjoyed this article since dance is also soo close to my heart.

    Sent from Samsung Mobile

  4. Nikki says:

    Wow!! Nandini!
    Shiksha’s dance to the God , the Dancer , the Creator & all connected as ONE!! Very nicely put together:))
    How do you do it?
    You are gifted & blessed!!

  5. trophos says:

    I love this! I’d never heard of Nataraja, but the inseparability of the dancer from dance / creator from creation idea is beautiful. And I know Bollywood dance is different from bhangra, but I have to say that I don’t think there’s another dance form in the world that is as joyful as bhangra.

  6. Shakun says:

    Dance and dancer cannot be separated and neither can creator and creation !

  7. jmchri13 says:

    Thanks for the perspective. Not enough people in this country are exposed to dance as a form of spiritual expression. Even the various forms of American folk dancing serve the same purpose of Bollywood dance in that they allow for a release of positive energy-I was able to experience this when I became involved with a contra-dance (basically New England square dancing) group at my university.

    • onehindu says:

      Yes exactly! It doesn’t matter what kind of dance it is… It’s the spiritual connection that many dance forms offer you that makes this art form so very special.

  8. athenenoelle says:

    I would like to nominate you for the Liebster Award. I was just nominated. It is basically to share a blog I like with other bloggers who have fewer than 1000 followers. Consider yourself nominated!

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May 2014

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