A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman

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This is a book about dance. It’s also about loss, spirituality, art, family, community and having trust in oneself and one’s abilities. 


Veda lives in India and she dances and competes in bharatanatyam. At least until a car accident leaves her with a below-knee amputation, making her unable to move the way she used to. She feels the loss of her connection to the goddess Shiva and dance. Both the stares and comments as getting to her as Veda tries to get back to her regular life, which feels empty without dance.

Then a doctor and a new dance teacher show how much they believe in her, arranging things so that she will still succeed to dance again. She might never be as perfect or the winner she was, but she can use dance as the art form it is to express herself. In the new school, she finds a community less competitive and more including. It’s all so beautiful, so maybe don’t read it in public if you don’t want to sit with tears in your eyes 30 pages in, at a bus stop the first day of school.

My thoughts


Veda’s a beautiful person and it’s really frustrating and difficult going through the journey with her as you realize how tough she’s been on herself, even before the accident that made her feel pressured into hiding herself away.

“My skin tingles as I step into the music,
give in to the icy thrill of pleasure
that spreads through me whenever I dance,
the pleasure of leaping into a cool lake on a
sweltering day.” 

It’s actually the first book I’ve read in lyrical form told through verse but – and I can sense everyone fleeing, stop – the simplicity fits the story perfectly. Every word in here has a purpose, which made it really enjoyable as it naturally hops in time so we can see Veda’s recovery and the relationships she builds unfold. I loved the interactions with her family, which have their faults, and I love the philosophies on dance. Everything in this book was just perfect, without trying too hard to be.

4 thoughts on “A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman

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