I do it only while dreaming … but not in real life. Not yet.

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It’s a recurring dream, one where I both know I’m dreaming yet carry on anyway, indulging myself because part of me knows that what I am about to do is possible only in my dreams.

I’m in a studio, brightly lit from above, radiant in fact, with indirect light filtering down through a skylight so huge that absolutely zero artificial lighting is needed. The studio is long, not more than 20–25 feet wide but looooong, and with a mirror covering one entire length of a wall. That there’s a barre running across the mid-section of that mirror is an important visual and contextual detail because it defines this as a dance studio and that is exactly what I am there to do. To dance.

In almost every occasion that I dream of this, I am solo, utterly, absolutely, unmistakably alone and blissfully happy for it. Because this means I am free, free to do, feel, move and be exactly what I want or need or dream of. Here I do not need permission, nor are there rules I must follow, no expectations to weigh me down and no barriers I need to destroy.

I am free emotionally, mentally, spiritually and because this is a dance studio, physically. And here, in my dream, having the freedom to be physically free IS what releases my soul, mind and heart from all their respective cages, some self-imposed, others set up by society, my friends, my family, my lovers, the list goes on.

And in this dream, I dance. With fluid ease that is not constrained by limitations of the body or mind, soaring and leaping, pirouetting and sashaying, blending seamlessly from one genre to another with nothing to dictate what style I choose or the pace I adopt or the energy I exude EXCEPT the music. Here the music rules, and it reflects nothing, is not imbued with significance, nor holds no sway over me except to inform my physical world.

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One moment I’m gliding effortlessly through the air as Sade’s satiny voice wraps itself like aerial silk around my limbs and I am suspended and animated all at the same time. In another moment, my chest thumps with the bass of a dub step track and that could just as easily be followed by the cheery, vapid delight of a chart topping number that means nothing in almost any language other than that of fun and gleeful abandon. I am occasionally transported to another sphere with Air Pop or am placed firmly in a context dictated by a Glitch Soulazz piece that rends all previous notions of what my soul found soothing.

Some days, I dance with intensity, my movement fueled by rage and hurt and longing, every sinew and nerve raw with a pain that my body assists me to release, one milli-emotional-gram at a time, until I am spent and feel nothing inside.

But there are those days when I am content to gently map the space of the studio using my body as a loving palm caressing a warm piece of wood, reveling in the way my fingertips read the braille of the grain and interpret the tactile tapestry of every whorl and bump that once was bark and sap and a whole universe of energy pulsing from deep within the earth, up, up, up, towards the sun. And truly, I feel like a tree that seems fixed in place but sways gleefully with a summer wind and whips its thrashing branches during an angry storm or sigh-moans softly when a wet rainy breeze runs its fingers seductively through its leaves, while kissing each one every so breathlessly.

Pic courtesy: Vashishtha Jogi via VisualHunt.com

I am this tree with impulses racing through my every synapse, neural connections firing away at speeds that need not be computed, for what purpose does it serve to know how fast your thoughtsemotionsdesireshopesfearsshameguiltrage travel, especially when there is no traffic cop with a speed gun?

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The irony is that while the galaxies of my inner landscape continue to spin, die and be born miraculously but imperceptibly, my outer reality is rooted firmly in place, my body is trapped in time, in gravity, in geography and history, in social and religious norms, in straitjackets imposed by gender, age, race, species, education and economics.

But it doesn’t matter, because I know that in my dreams, I dance for no one but me.