It’s an ordinary room with a red linoleum floor and mirrors; lots of them. In an alcove sits a table that’s seen better days. On it sits a stereo system and a dusty computer with tiny speakers. A rusty air conditioner is stuffed into a window frame. Photographs of dancing children frozen in time adorn the boards. Tribal masks and puppets stare at nothing lifelessly.
It’s an ordinary room, just like any sleepy, silent chamber. Until....
...the clock strikes 8. Misty figures appear, spells are chanted and...the Dance Room lives.
It breathes a sigh of music. Its red floor pulses with the stomping of little feet. Like heartbeats in the core of a sentient being.
The creators of this enchantment, the women who wrought this magic are easily mistaken for ordinary people. Do not be fooled by their kohl-lined eyes, big bead necklaces, their silver slippers or their ginormous handbags. They are wizards, not women.
Zesty Reema hula hoops with her children till we’re too dizzy to watch anymore. Feisty Rekha guards the threshold of the room with the eyes of a goddess. Dare anyone enter with their shoes on! This wrath of Rekha keeps the chamber sacred (and dust free!) Together, the zesty and feisty wizards choreograph dancing dreams with flavours deeply Indian and suavely Contemporary.
This is where we meet; those of us who were “marked” by the Stage Fairy at birth. We, who were born to stand beneath the spotlight or pace restlessly behind curtains while our art was subjected to the scrutiny of an audience.
This is where we share our heartbreaks, deaths and disappointments; births, recipes, make-up tips, dreams. We share lunch, bhel puri, coffee and cupboard space. We teach each other Surya Namaskaar. We call each other names and critically appreciate each other’s work.
This is where Anjali’s humorous scripts are first read out. This red linoleum floor is the battlefield upon which she fences with our Costume Tailor, demanding Broadway original quality and receiving Bollywood copies instead. Here, Gita pores over her keyboard, hassled and harassed, swearing she hasn’t the faintest idea when to play interludes for the Tin-Man or was it Toto? We laugh at Manas’ comic one-liners and applaud his genius musicality. Beneath our shrieks, Shahana’s soft voice can be heard, tinkling with cheer.
And through all of this, the pitter-patter of little feet. Up and down, in and out. Children excited, relieved, having the time of their lives.
In a corner of the Dance Room stands a red guitar. It responds feebly to my weak and unskilled fingers. It knows I am not its mistress. Cradled in Aradhna’s arms, the red guitar fills our hours with passionate, soulful music. Her rich and heartwarming songs wash over us and we listen quietly to the waves of melody she weaves.
The day is coming to an end. I lift my voice and sing with her. A perfect blend.
All eyes in the room are closed. Reema rocks back and forth gently. Rekha smiles to herself. The Dance Room sighs deeply. Our work here is done.
The song still on our lips, we bid each other farewell. The bags and slippers vanish. The enchantment fades. All is quiet.
It’s an ordinary room again. Just like any other.
Until the morn.