Have you ever wondered why cooking and dancing help you express?
If you are someone who has a passion for cooking, sometime or the other, you must have swayed to some music or tapped your foot to a rhythm while cooking, and without realising, you would have enjoyed both.
Whether I am happy or sad, I find cooking and dancing to be the best ways of expressing myself.
Spices and herbs are great mood relaxants. (Photo: Twitter)
In most cultures, food is a way for people to gather. It brings family and friends together for banquets, potlucks and holidays. Coming from a Bengali household, cooking and eating go hand-in-hand for me. Sumptuous food and guests enjoying platters full of vegetarian and non-vegetarian delicacies at our home has been an integral part of my growing up years. Our kitchen boasts of spices and aromas used not only in Indian, but cuisines as varied as Asian, Italian, Thai and Mexican.
I took to cooking and enjoying it from my mother. From baking, grilling, steaming, deep-frying, I learnt it all. Celery, bell peppers, lemongrass, oregano, rosemary — I learnt to recognise them from their aroma, and this instilled in me the passion to cook.
I am sure all you great cooks out there understand that aromas are related to moods, and they can stir up or alter emotions. Spices, chocolates and herbs are mood relaxants, and have always helped me tackle mood swings and helped express my anger or excitement.
When I first stepped into the kitchen, it was with nervousness and excitement. But the smells, the tastes, the spices embraced me and welcomed me to a world of creativity.
I don’t always follow a recipe, I like experimenting. And what I observed is that every time I make a new dish, it’s nothing but a reflection of my emotions on that day.
Cooking also helps me calm down, and acts as a stress buster.
Whipping up desserts is a great way to forget your troubles. (Photo: Facebook)
Contrary to most Bengalis, I don’t particularly enjoy Maachher Jhol (fish curry) or Roshogolla, but I do have a sweet tooth. A common Bengali phrase goes: “Ki Mishti (how sweet)”, and I think I have taken it too seriously. From chocolate walnut cakes to peanut butter delicacies, from chocolate orange marble cakes to mud pops, I have experimented with everything. I realise whipping up desserts makes me happy and trying them keeps me away from my troubles, at least from thinking about them.
Recently, a video of a grandma dancing to Reggaeton Music while cooking went viral on social media. Dancing while cooking is a brilliant combination.
I am an Odissi dancer and have learnt this classical dance form for over 10 years. Dance is the most balanced form of self-expression. Bold and beautiful as it is, it purges you from inside and helps you to connect to the outer world.
Whether indulging in for professional, recreational or any other reason, dancing is the most expressive form to vent out. The mudras, postures and the expressions flow out beautifully, whether you want to convey love, passion, happiness, hatred, anger, revenge on anything else you can think of. And whether you intend to weave a story or not, dance definitely gives you your own story. A story of freedom, a story of success or failure, a beginning or an end...
There are 63 Hastas or Mudras in Odissi dance. (Photo: DailyO)
Did you know that your brain lights up when it sees movements? Dance psychologist Peter Lovatt, of Hertfordshire University, experimented on how people convey feelings through dance, and how these were perceived by the audience. Each individual had a different perception and a story to tell.
The nine emotions included in navarasa are shringara or beauty, hasya or laughter, karuna or sorrow, raudra or anger, veera or courage, bhayanaka or terror/fear, bibhatsya or disgust, adbutha or surprise and shanta or tranquility. There are 63 Hastas or Mudras in Odissi dance. The one-hand mudras communicate a salute, prayer, embrace, energy, bond, swing, carriage, shell, arrow, holding a thing, and a wheel. The double-hand Mudras indicate a flag, flower, type of bird or animal, moon, actions like grasping, and Nrutya Hasta is pure dance filled with emotions.
No wonder that whenever I take to the stage or to the dance floor, whether it is a particular mudra or a free dance style, I can emote the most. What is interesting is the fact that I dance when I am happy and excited, and also when I am feeling low or in despair. The vent-out is beautiful, as it gives a sense of fulfilment. And the best part — I can convey my feelings without having to care about whether someone is listening to me or not.