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29 Jul 2012
Kathak has touched every part of my life
Aastha Mehta, daughter of Amita and Samir Mehta, has been a student of Guru Rachna Sarang and RSAPA for over a decade now. She was also privileged with the opportunity to learn Kathak under Late Guru Madhurita Sarang in Mumbai. She has had the privilege to perform in various prestigious locations in New York such as FIT, Town Hall, and The Hindu Temple, and with Indian and American artists alike including the renowned Indian singer, Hariharan. Guru Rachna Sarang has worked to present her in a very unique style of more heroic and divine mythological characters such as Hanuman, Narsimha, Ravana and many more. Aastha also excels in the most feminine and graceful presentation of Kathak dance. I have always loved dancing. Even before I began to learn Kathak, my mother says I was dancing. Once I started Kathak, there was no stopping me. I would be practicing my footwork without realizing it, or even doing my hand movements as I sat around watching TV. Then 7 years ago, I had my graduation performance in New York. And soon on August 4th and 5th, I am taking part in two shows, on behalf of the Palanpur Samaj Kendra in Mumbai. I am often asked by my friends and family what has made dance so special for me that I still continue it with such passion today. Kathak started for me as an after school activity, then became a hobby, and now it is much more...it is no longer something I do to learn different movements to music and perform, it has become a passion, an integral part of my life. In fact my second grade friends had aptly named me as, “The one who dances,” knowing so well that Dance defines me. When I dance I don’t just move with my body, but with my emotions and my expressions. Dance has been an unwavering source of confidence, energy, and conviction in my life, as a second-generation Indian living in New York. Ever since I can remember, I instinctively knew I was different from my school friends. I looked different, ate differently, and as a Jain, I followed a religion that they had never heard of. While most of my friends headed off to their ballet classes in their pink tutus, and buns tied with lace, I went to Kathak class in a traditional salwar khameez, with my ghungroos tied around my ankles. I loved the fact that I was uniquely different and I brought the vigor and energy of the intricate footwork and fast pirouettes to assemblies in school. Dancing makes me feel alive – I am connected with space, with the music, and infused with emotions. For me, dance becomes the medium to connect to something beyond the physical. My moving body actually takes me to a place which is ethereal. All the bruises and injuries, aches and pains of hours of nonstop practices and weeks of training dissipate as soon as I start dancing! Dance and performances bring with them new challenges and unforgettable experiences which enriches me, my personality and my life. Kathak has touched every part of my life.

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