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Shakti perspectives: Chandralaya school of dance

How can Dance support our mental health? 

Dance (of any kind) is a fun way of incorporating movement in our everyday life, helping us stay fit, sharpen our minds, and reduce stress.Dancing like any other form of exercise releases endorphins that are known to reduce anxiety and improve our sleep patterns. Physically, dancing builds endurance, helping improve the condition of one’s heart and lungs. Dance is also a form of self-expression and one of the most beautiful and instinctive ways humans have used to share ideas and communicate how they feel.

 How did Chandralaya dance deal with the difficulties of lockdown? 

Looking back at 2020, I would be lying if I said all has been well. It has been hard sustaining as a business, transitioning to online teaching and keeping my students engaged. That said, we were lucky to have our students stay with us through the extended lockdown in Melbourne and build resilience through that journey. We were one of the early adopters of teaching dance via Zoom and we managed to keep most of our classes going by revising our curriculum, class size and timings to suit each student group. We incorporated other forms of exercise (breathing exercises and body conditioning) to help our students to cope with the drastic changes they have had to make in their lives. We are incredibly grateful to be able to continue operating the school, unlike some other small businesses who have struggled to stay open. Thankful for amazing support and resilience from the entire student community throughout!

What advice would you give to other South Asian creatives who are recovering after lack of work?

As artists, I believe we have the innate strength to deal with adversity, to raise above all to keep our passion for the art going. My foremost advice will be to think outside the box, learn to adapt and keep growing. Doing these steps does not have to be expensive or elaborate. For e.g.

  • Artists can use the time wisely and do some introspection, work on a creative piece that you have been thinking about and have not been able to get to it due to other work commitments.

  • Improve one’s form by practicing their art form be it performing artists (music and dance), literature, visual arts etc.

  • Expand one’s digital portfolio to collaborate with other Artists Online.

  • Take online classes/ lectures (some of them free / for a lower cost) to help you grow as an artist, and build a following.

  • One can use the time to specialize on a particular subject of interest or even apply for Grants for future works.

What supported your self-care during down times? 

The most important aspect for me was to keep a balance of my physical and mental well-being. In addition to practicing dance, I tried to stay healthy during the lockdown by doing a mixture of activities running, yoga and body conditioning. Making some good food choices and keeping myself hydrated helped a lot and to maintain my weight. Spending quality time with my son and family brought a lot of peace and connection during the uncertain times. I continued to reach out to my students to keep them engaged during lockdown which brought a lot of fulfillment in me.

Final thoughts or messages you would like to share for 2021? 

I think we should all carry a sense of gratitude from 2020.Personally, the last 12 months has thought me to better appreciate the freedom and simple pleasures I have, at times taken for granted. 

"Out of diversity comes opportunity- B Franklin"

This phase will pass however, the lessons learned in resilience, working as a community, and appreciating freedom is something that will stick with us forever to make us better humans and a better society.

Instagram: Chandralaya dance

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