The benefits of dance on the human body are evident, and inarguable. Aside from the basic effects like increased stamina, better balance, greater flexibility and endurance, toning, weight loss, Bangalore based girl Tanya Sharma discovered an incredible, alternative benefit to dance: It’s therapeutic abilities.
“Dance is one of the best things you can do to your body. It’s freeing in a way that is hard to describe to the non-dancer because your journey with dance is so personal. People often scoff at the claim that dance is therapeutic but when I look back, it has been one of the only constants in my life and has helped me introspect so deeply. That, to me, is what therapy is.” says the 19 year-old student now studying Humanities, Arts and Social Thought at Bard College, Berlin.
An Odissi dancer currently in training for 7 years, her experiments with dance therapy started in 2014, when she interned at Aarti Home, a shelter for abused and abandoned girls in Kadapa, Andhra Pradesh.
“My mother actually encouraged me to make the connection between dance and therapy. I had worked with kids multiple times before and taught dance at Antara so this was ideal for me. I went into this internship hoping I could share the experience that dance gave me because it was truly special and changed the way I interacted with myself and my emotions. Sharing the music and the movements is only one part of teaching the girls. They respond fabulously to that but what really connects us is the happiness that dance brings to us. It’s pure joy when the music starts.”
In this way, she connected two seemingly unconnected fields to create a third experience that ended up being more than just the sum of its parts. Her journey, as she describes it, was not easy but she considers every minute of it worth it.
Here’s a link to the documentary she made about her experiences at Aarti:
Her main inspirations come from her parents, whom she says have made it a point to introduce her to their friends doing things across the city. Thus, Heads of Companies, Dancers, Artists – all of these people and their own journeys and stories, Tanya says, have inspired her even further.
“One person that stands out in particular is Sandhya Puchalapalli who runs Aarti Home. She has been such a source of inspiration in my life. I’m grateful to know her and to have worked at Aarti Home. She supported this endeavor wholeheartedly and was always present to assist me in any way.”
Thus, after talking about her journey, when asked about what she’s doing currently, she says,
“I don’t actually work with dance therapy in Berlin. Unfortunately, the sessions are limited to whenever I travel to Aarti Home which is around once a year. The responses at home are heartwarming though. The girls are brilliant, smart and make my time there so much better.”
“I went into the internship thinking I would change their lives but in all honestly, they’ve changed mine. It taught me humility and honesty in a way that very few other experiences have.” is her heartfelt conclusion.
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Written by Utkarsh Pathak.
For the ATKT.in Editorial Team.