Breathless: Performing at MD’21’s Ceremony of Gratitude by Pranati Panuganti

Pranati Panuganti, MD’21, performed at the 2018 Ceremony of Gratitude. Her original dance was choreographed to a classical Indian song, Breathless, by Shankar Mahadevan. Pranati was gracious enough to describe her experience performing at the Ceremony of Gratitude to Murmur

This classical Indian song, Breathless by Shankar Mahadevan, is a “steady stream” of music that is is presented by the singer who is breathless as he describes a person near and dear to his heart – just as the families gathered at the Ceremony of Gratitude reflect on their loved ones who have generously contributed to our learning in medical school. I began choreographing this dance just as we had wrapped up Anatomy for the first semester.

As I heard the singer express his appreciation for his relationship with a loved one, I could not stop thinking of the bond that our anatomical donors had with their loved ones. I started wondering more about their families, and the place that our donor had in their lives.

As the Ceremony of Gratitude approached, I couldn’t think of a better match for a song to perform a dance for the ceremony. The purpose of this dance is to express our gratitude for the families and the donor’s contribution to our learning.

The dance begins with a short story of a person entering the clinic as they struggle to breathe, and depicts a future doctor who listens to their lungs and comforts the person until they are able to breathe comfortably. The remainder of the dance expresses a celebration of life and unconditional love for the people dear to our hearts.

Being able to convey a message through dance, in this case a message of gratitude and joy, has always brought purpose to my practice. At the Ceremony of Gratitude, I felt that I was able to convey this message, but in doing so, I felt a dissociation from myself: I felt that I was in the audience, that I was a part of the families in attendance. While I will never really fully be able to understand the families and their relationship with their loved one, performing this dance and forming that connection with the families has become such a tangible memory that will forever be very meaningful to me.

 

I’ve shared a few short snips of lyrics translated from Hindi to English below.

 

each wave of her words

is a shower of pearls

is the echo of silver anklets

is wine spilling into a goblet

is stroking musical strings

is like a song

is like serenading the moonlight

is like a soft whisper

how sweet those words

how strange those encounters

when i learned

how emotions melt the heart

how the moon lights on land

how the earth at times may contain

the splendour of heaven

 

as flowers to bloom

these ties are forever

eternal our bond

each life time

has brought us together

 

Pranati is an MD’21 from Charlotte, NC. She graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2016.

Watch a video of Pranati’s performance here.

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