Dancing in Democracy

by Sivani Chinappan


In our current period of despair and depression, ignorance and identity crisis, arrogance and abuse of power, dance may be a possible solution in building us as a nation. In democratic South Africa we are trying so hard to break down historical barriers that our voice as a nation has become weak. So instead of fixing we seem to focus on destroying. We are known for our multiculturalism and unity in diversity yet we don’t appreciate it enough to give life to it.


Dance is the breath of life in every culture, we give life to truths told by our forbearer every time we move on this soil fertilised by their blood, sweat and tears. Dance is an intrinsic aspect of culture which has been presented and received as mere entertainment for too long. However every student of dance (if taught correctly) and teacher can testify that dance enables us to live consciously, constructively, productively and authentically. Dance for me, was a choice, a conscious decision to expand my knowledge and push my boundaries. Studying dance helped me apply myself to the world with courage, conviction and creativity. That for me has been the most liberating. Dance is a creative way of expressing the voice of the soul which is articulated through body movements, expressions and gestures.


As South Africans we should be true examples of a liberated nation however we are so consumed by the problems that we have forgotten all about the solutions.  As a nation we have developed a problem posing way of doing things in life and forgot our true essence of being problem solvers. Dance, particularly Bharathanatyam teaches us about being the solution. For decades bharathanatyam has been communicated as a sacred, disciplined and to an extent restrictive dance style by virtue of it being the dance of God.


In South Africa we seemed to have ‘sealed it in a Tupperware’ only to be distributed to certain guests, seasonally. The art which was brought to South Africa as a sacred treasure is not being taught and learnt at it’s highest potential. The mindset of a quick fix is present. The idea of wanting to attain a full time benefit with a part time effort is not healthy for an aspirant dancer to harbour. In this space, forget the stereotypes, the orthodox thinking and step up to the page where arts has evolved as much as society has, in fact it is this artistic evolution that teaches us how to be liberated individuals of society. Pure liberation of one’s body mind and spirit can be   experienced when one taps into the realm of unlimited creative potential. Movement becomes organic and we understand what it truly means to be non-judgemental. I have learned that arts  education is important however arts in education is powerful. This column I share the value and impact of arts in educating and helping us grow as a nation. I look at how dance allows us as  spiritual beings on a human journey to experience true liberation, enabling and empowering us to share our qualified experiences with others. My intention is to inspire, motivate and educate through the arts.


If you acknowledge the breath of life dances in the rhythm of your heartbeat, then this space is for you. This is the space of edutainment, sharing thoughts, tips and tools for  teachers, students, aspiring dancers and anyone who enjoys moving to the beat. It will also feature reviews of South Indian dance recitals, performances and shows. Let us consciously appreciate the role of dance in educating and empowering us as a nation.


  Sivani Chinappan - Award winning Actress, Radio jockey Thamizh Osai every Sunday evening 7-10pm on MegaZone South, Director, International artist, Dance critic, Speech and drama specialist, Choreographer and Teacher



   Copyright Sivani Chinappan