The Music In My Heart by Maryam Shakiba

IMG_7327cropImage: Maryam with Odissi teacher Sujata Mohapatra

This week at Milapfest has been enriching and opening in ways I did not expect. I came to study Odissi, and yet feel as if I am undergoing a transformative experience that goes further than my particular dance discipline. It feels as if I will come out as a fuller human being than before. As always, it seems that, when it comes to anything related to India, things never seem to go as anticipated!

One of the many blessings of being here this week is the mornings, afternoons and evenings of world class Indian classical music and dance we have feasted on. Although a Dance India student, my first contact with the Indian classical arts was with music. I was staying at a guesthouse in Varanasi and arrived one evening to a concert. I’ll be honest, I don’t think my eyes left the tabla the whole time. The rhythms, the bass lines, the builds, the drops; oh my goodness a whole range of expression in a form I had never encountered before. But the musical journey I went on was incredible.

I digress, but recounting that initial experience brings me to the joy I have been feeling at getting lost in the music here. I truly value what is happening here for us in terms of building the presence of art in our hearts. It really makes me remember the driving force behind Indian art, why we are all striving so hard in our chosen form; to bring ourselves with great care and presence to that blissful state where we feel closest to the divinity within us.

I wrote this poem this week during a performance. It is the closest I can put into words of how the music has been making me feel.

My heart is being teased apart.
Melting at its seams.
Leaving behind a sea of bliss.

My eyes lose focus.
I look and see but do not see.
And yet I see everything.

My self enters a state that I know but had forgotten.
I have been here before.
Memories resurface and my heart reaches for another time.
A time that has been and that I dream will come again.
For I have momentarily dropped out of the present, into everything.

Deep pranam to all the masters of art here. It is a real honour to share space with so many incredibly talented and devoted people.

Written by Maryam Shakiba, Dance India 2013 participant.

For more information about Dance India please visit the webpages or contact the team at

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