By Dr Mumtaz Begum Aboo Backer
We are not just artists
We are daughters, sisters, wives, mothers and friends
We are women
We are not just women
We are women with dreams and passion
We are women who have come a long way to claim our rights as artists
Was it just a dream? Was it only passion? How did I even think of writing about all these strong women dancers and their powerful stories? It was an obsession! I was obsessed with the way they moved and with their courage to express themselves. I was crazily moved and touched by their sacrifices, their emotions, their strengths, their truths, their thoughts, their failures, their ups and downs.
They danced the mother, I realized how strong a mother was; or “had to be?”. She not only carried her child in her womb, but also her child’s dreams, passion, needs, desires, expectations without once thinking about herself. She gives all that she knows and possesses to her child. That is all the Ma’s in the world, that is a woman! There is a saying, “God could not be everywhere and so He created mothers”.
But before a woman becomes a mother, she is a daughter, sister, wife and lover. She has many roles to play. Each role is special and the tasks, requirements and expectations differ. Sometimes these roles take the woman down paths that are dark, suspicious and deviant. Nevertheless, these roles mould the woman, they teach and prepare her for bigger challenges. As these women danced the selected roles, I saw and understood the obsession in Draupadi and Lady White Snake that drove them to achieve their pursuit of love and dignity. The former deviously sexual, opposite from her portrayal in the epic, the latter furiously courageous as in the myth.
Dancing the Strong Woman was a journey, a journey to seek my own strength!
If I did not write about these women and their dance, I would have never known that I could. If I did not theorize their dance, I would have never been able to think critically. This is not just a thesis nor a book, it is a journey of discovery and empowerment. One woman empowering the other.
This is the story of every woman, the Mahila, “the woman” in us.
I am a girl.
I am a daughter.
I am a sister.
I am a wife.
I am a mother.
I am a dancer.
I am a voice.
I am MAHILA!