Nov 6, 2011

My Stint at Chheihlam...

So, once again for the Confluence - The North East Cultural Night in campus, we are asked to present a cultural item from our state. Over the years, we've done most of our well known dances. During my five years in campus, we've danced Cheraw thrice and Khuallam twice. Sarlamkai  was also performed the year before I joined.

And since Confluence usually falls on the same time as the Delhi Mizo Kut and JNUCF Advance Christmas, people who are from the North East, who are a part of the CF and are also Mizos are always very busy. I happen to tick off every category I just mentioned. So, late October and early November are usually the busiest seasons in each of my five years in Delhi. By the time all three got over, I would be worn out from all the song practice, dance practice, football practice and Kutpui Ni. Eversince I came to Delhi, I remembered not being sick for exactly one birthday. And I blamed my sickly birthdays from over exhaustion from all the hype and crazy busy season. 

So keeping all the busy schedules of the season for everyone into consideration, we decided this year that, at Confluence, we'd present something simple, easy to learn and something which doesn't need too much practice. 

We all agreed on Chheihlam. We later learnt we couldn't be more foolish.

We figured we'd ask two of our off-campus 'dancer' friends to help us in leading the dance, engaging all the attention of the audience while we would just mindlessly hop in the background. We figured we'd have just a few practices when we'd get use to the dance, instead of a month long vigorous practice we'd have for dances like Cheraw. We practiced exactly for four nights out of which I attended three because I was busy working on a deadline.

I am not a dancer, but I am not a non-dancer either. I am not too bad when it comes to dancing, yet I have never come across a dance I felt more awkward with.

At the first practice, I realized my back, and my recently fractured ribs didn't quite agree with the dance posture where you have to stoop low and go hippety hoppety hop hop and flirt and smile at your partner all at the same time. I went home limping that night. I never knew that Chheihlam is the world's best lower body workout particularly for the butt!!! I woke up with a sore bum the next day and realized I pulled muscles in parts of my body where I've never felt muscles before. However, I was proud of myself that I got the dance technique on the first practice itself.

The second practice. I was confident but when we got up to dance, I realized I lost all my newly acquired dance moves!!! And I have to learn how to hop in that certain manner all over again. By that practice, we decided that we'd choose our permanent partner. Zara and I were quick to run to each other because both of us were not too good so we were comfortable with each other's pace. But by the end of the second practice, we were the proud- twosome who said that we danced the best!!

A few of the girls were quite good with the dancing but the attention always goes to the men. We have only a few men in campus and I don't think that they'd be hurt if they hear me say that they all have two left feet when it comes to dancing. Engkima doing the Chheih looks like he's doing the lengkhawm lam. Tetea, 'the scientist', was worse. He looks like he's doing a chicken dance. When we asked him to put his legs together while hopping, he said he didn't want to look like an old man. So there he goes, arms stretched at the back, stooping, legs apart and hopping! I haven't seen a more awkward dance position. Zara, on the other hand,  thinks he dances the best. But compared to whom??

So after practices and several limpings and butt workouts, Confluence Night finally arrived.

And all hell broke loose!!

Out of the two off-campus dancer friends that we thought we'd leave all the dancing to, Jacinta had to cancel last minute because she couldn't get off work on time. So we had to shift and break-up the dance couples, just 20 minutes before the programme started. I was somehow paired up with Autea, the dancer dude, not because I was the best dancer among the girls but because they felt I have the 'highest level of confidence' at impromptu items. And that is how I ended up lead dancing Chheih in front of the whole campus and a lil' bit more.

I pulled Autea to one corner and warned him beforehand, "I'll dance however way I can. I know I'm not good but it's upto you to make me look good". He grinned through his glasses and nodded vigorously.

And, Boy, did he!!

While we were on stage, I have never felt more comfortable dancing Chheih. People would have never guessed that Chheihlam is one dance I feel like I have two left feet with. I was proud to say I even enjoyed myself while dancing. In fact, I was so confident that by the last verse, I had the guts to dance up and down  the runway so that there would be more space for the others to dance in our little stage. And all that insurmountable level of confidence boosted up within just the few minutes of the song with a right partner!

Did I not say I enjoyed myself???

My knees were shaking and my legs were giving away when we were done. I knelt on the carpet backstage, grinning ear to ear, relieved that we're done with our item and happy that I somehow enjoyed myself. Of course, all the adrenaline wasn't quite enough to stop me from popping an ibuprofen tablet before I went to sleep that night. The next day was Delhi Mizo Kut, and I should be nowhere close to limping on that day!

So what did I learn from my Chheih stint?? Just three things.

One. When it comes to dancing, unless it's a competition, it doesn't matter how well you dance. What matters is how much you enjoyed yourself!!

Two. Our Mizo forefathers are so darn FIT!!!!

Three. With the right partner and a good amount of effort from both sides, you can get through almost everything together. Be it a 6:56 minute of a dance you feel most awkward with or maybe even life itself!!

"Hei lo a liam a inchhai!!!???"

So whether it's Chheih or not, I'll keep dancing through life! *Grin**Grin*


Anonymous said...

And for those who wondered what Chheih Lam is all about, here is a video

TS Khupchong said...

Chheih lam hi taksa fit loh chuan a nalh har khawp mai. A thiam bik te'n an han chheih lam tak tak hi chu a hmuh a nuam bik dard darh khawp mai. Post a ngaihnawm e.

Alejendro said...

To be honest.. Chheihlam hrim hrim hi nalh ka tilo :-D

Senmami said...

@TS Khupchong

Cheraw a ka lam aiin ka chheih hian ka rawl nasa zawkin ka hria ... heheh. A lo hahthlak khawp mai!


A thlirtu tan chuan lam dang chu tluk lo khawp mai! Hnamdang hovin nalh an tih leh tihlo lam kha kan hre chang tahw lo ani ber e... Kan lam nuam ve khawp mai! :D