Day 129: Ananda Shankar Jayant fights cancer with dance.

In her forty years of dancing, Ananda Shankar Jayant has performed with the best in the field, both in India and across the globe and been rewarded with India’s fourth highest civilian award for her contribution to art. She thought she knew what fear was, until she heard the word, ‘carcinoma’ from her doctor.

Jayant feared this was the end of her dancing days. After a conversation with her husband, she realised that she could control only three things in her life; her thoughts, her mind and the action that derived from it. She wanted to go to a place of healing and happiness, so she made the decision that cancer was only one page in her life. She wouldn’t allow it to take her over and so she returned to dance.

The transition back to her studio wasn’t easy. Jayant was bald within three days and climbing a flight of stairs was an epic feat. Slowly she began to regain her positivity through dance; then she looked for more inspiration. She found this in the metaphor of the eighteen armed, mother goddess Durga. Durga epitomised fearlessness and creative feminine energy. Jayant decided to model herself on Durga to bring focus into her dance.

Jayant danced through chemo and radiation cycles, tuning out of cancer and into her art. In this video she performs the dance that saved her, a powerful rendition of the work, ‘Simhandini’, or, ‘The one who rode the lion.’ Jayant demonstrates how she is truly a cancer conqueror.


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