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The dream that inspired AANGAN ACADEMY

An aangan is a central courtyard in an Indian home. It is an open space that has many uses. Being something of a cross between a common-room, a patio and a foyer, its uses are as varied as its occupants. Some of the most memorable moments for a homeowner occurs in this space, and for them the aangan quickly becomes the heart of their home.

An aangan is often the first space that a guests steps into as they are welcomed into the home. This leads to informal get-togethers in this airy space. Some households have their tulsi plant, a basil plant considered to be holy in India, in the center of their aangan and thus this space is used for prayer and morning rituals of song and meditation. Of course its the perfect spot to have a little snooze under the mid-day sun or use the strong sun rays to dry everything from clothes to spices. I used the small aangan in our home to practice dance. As a matter of fact, for many years, I was taught Odissi dance in the aangan of a Jagannath Temple. When I started giving solo performances, for me even the intimacy of a stage was like an aangan in which I could present a dance. In truth Indian dance is so inter-connected to these courtyards that there is a Hindi idiom, ‘Naach na jaaney to aangan teda.’ … meaning when you cannot dance correctly just blame the aangan for being crooked!

An aangan is also the perfect spot for dreaming under a starlit sky. As these courtyards usually do not have a roof, the dreams can be as big and limitless as the endless sky above. As I have always been passionate about learning and as dance is my second nature, I had hoped of owning a dance school one day. As a child I did not think of it as a business proposal but as a dream for the future. I used to draw the structure of the school and its many classrooms. AND of course at the center of the school would be a large, magical aangan. Even nowadays I redraw the shape and structure of the school. I etch out the series of classrooms and all the different skills that need to be taught to aspiring dancers. I have always maintained that dance is not a single modality of learning. A dancer needs to know as much about music, rhythmic drums, acting, theatre and yoga as about dancing. As a kid, I used to make sure that in my plans for the school there were classrooms that were inspirational for the learning of these different skills. But as I have grown in age and spirituality, I find that the mission of the school is evolving into providing a safe place, an aangan, to be able to express yourself through dance and to discover yourself through movement.

Dance is not only art in motion, an entertainment for others and exercise for yourself but it is a unique medium to explore your connections to the universe. All you need is an aangan underneath your feet where you can dance your infinite possibilities into being as the limitless universe smiles down on you.

So come explore your possibilities with us at Aangan Academy.

So come explore your possibilities with us at Aangan Academy.

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