Sunday, April 29, 2012

In Appreciation 感謝と共に

Photo by Richard Marks

The Odissi Ranga Mala - my Odissi dance debut ceremony was carried out in the most beautiful way I could imagine.

And it was because of everyone who supported, encouraged, and blessed me. I do not know where to begin to thank you all, and I do not know what words to use to convey what I feel in my heart. So for now, all I can say is thank you, thank you, and thank you over and over.

Even a week later, I am still chewing and tasting what has happened. As I find more words to describe them, I would like to share on this blog.

I was truly blessed to be showered with such love.
I enjoyed dancing with all my heart and soul. What a joy it was.
I did not feel anything but gratitude in my heart.

Right before I got on the stage, I felt as if I was watching the whole thing from the above or watching a movie. I was in me and feeling a bit nervous but not so terribly because I could feel a part of me who was calmly watching from a detached but connected place. Then I told myself, "This is one of great experiences you get to have in your human body on this planet in this life time. Go enjoy. Nothing to fear. Even if you make 'mistakes,' they'll be part of this wonderful experience. Everyone and I will give you energy you need and will 'catch' you if you fall, and all you'll have to do is to just get up and dance again. See, there is nothing to fear. There are only great things to look forward. It will be 'perfect' no matter what, so go Akari. Have fun! Are you ready? Here we go!"

In fact, I did make a big mistake in the second piece. I had been dancing the particular piece the longest and felt the most comfortable. In the first half of the dance piece, at one point, for whatever reason, my mind went blank, totally white. I lost the track of the choreography. I wasn't sure where I was. I was totally lost. I kept dancing and making up steps (I wasn't that creative, either). It was a scary experience :) I was telling myself, "Don't panic. It's okay. Keep smiling and keep dancing." Then my dance teacher, Sarala gave me a cue from her seat, and then I immediately knew where I was and got back on the track. Even so, a part of me wanted to start the piece all over again. That part of me did not want to accept or embrace the mistake. That part of me almost wanted to cry in disappointment and frustration. But I knew that it was a part of life. Sometimes things that we least expected happen, yet life goes on. I heard another part of me saying to me, "You got make a dance out of this mistake. You can't rewind the time but you can choose to 100% commit to this moment right here right now to create the future. Do you want to make a good one despite of this mistake or are you going to let yourself stuck here and give up?" I responded, "Of course not! I've worked so hard for this. So many people have helped me so much for this. I'm not allowing this mistake to take away all the hard work and beauty that comes with it!" I danced the rest of the piece and 4 more dance pieces with a refreshed mind after this internal dialogue.

It was truly a rite of passage for me. I am not trying to beautify the mistake, but I was and am grateful for this mistake I made because it has taught me a great deal of life's lesson which was a perfect lesson for a perfectionist like me :) I have overcome the struggle of wanting to make everything as "perfect" as it can be by embracing the mistake I made. This rang the bell for me as I applied it to my recent life. There was something I wanted to erase from my memory or wished never happened because it felt too painful to accept or take in. I felt I would shatter into pieces if I did. But I am now confident that no matter what happens in my life, I can always make the best out of it because life is too beautiful to give up. Really. I as might as well dance all of it. So many people have worked so hard for me to exist here today. Not only my direct ancestors but everyone's ancestors paved the path for us to enjoy fruition of their labor. We were already loved such a long time ago. The mother earth and the father sky, and the four elements, the four directions, and all the gods and spirits have been blessing us. How can I not to dance this joy? Also it taught me to have faith and trust the process. Help I would need along the way will be provided like how Sarala gave me the cue if I can stay relaxed and stay tuned. I am probably missing lots of cues in my everyday life by thinking too much about the past and the future :) These are some of the things I thought as I danced and between the dances in the backstage. And for me, dance is the best teacher.

I saw Suga, my dear Japanese dance teacher who passed away last June. I saw Grandma Elsie who also passed away a few days after Suga. I saw those two ladies sitting in the audience smiling. Grandma Elsie was trying to clap her hands like she always did whenever I danced, but she was often a little offbeat, and that made her extra cute. She was again off beat this time, but I loved it, and she was swaying her whole body in her wheel chair and looking up really proud as if to say, "That's my little dolly." :)

I danced for them and for the souls who passed away in the earthquake and those who are grieving from the losses. I danced for my dear students whom I have taught in the past praying for their bright future. I danced in appreciation of all the dancers and teachers who passed down the tradition of Odissi dance. I danced in appreciation of all the people who attended the ceremony praying for their health and happiness. I danced for Jagannath and God and all the deities thanking for the blessings they bestowed upon us constantly.

Thank you, thank you, and thank you.

In Appreciation,

Akari Ueoka
April 2012

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  1. congratulations Akari! you are doing great things with your dance...Zak

  2. Akari- you are such a wise woman! it was a joy to see you dance
    and thank you for the blog


  3. I wish I could be there... Your article about amazing experience brought me to special place. Thank you and all blessing be with you. - Tomoko G

  4. Mahalo for your ever-honest, heartfelt communications, Akari. As a hula dancer of nearly 20 years now, I loved hearing about your constant tuning in with Divinity and those who have passed from our world that still grace us with their presences. It was also extremely touching to read about the inner striving and letting go that goes on beneath our skin. Feel free to go to some time and comment. We are now preparing to take Recalling Hawaii to Big Island, then O'ahu, NY and England. Who knows, Canada and Japan next?? Tell me what you think, love Renee PS. hi to your parents whom I vividly recall meeting at Kalepa several years ago.xoxo