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.