Tao Porchon-Lynch has wrinkles all over her face, not because she is 93 but because she just smiles all the time. In fact, she does not not smile at all. And if you were to ask her why she smiles so much, she says it is because both, her dance and yoga make her happy.
“It is a rare combination but it has kept me going all these years. Dance makes me happy and Yoga gives me the energy to remain happy,” she told PaGaLGuY.
Tao Porchon-Lynch was in Mumbai yesterday as Chief Guest for a dance performance hosted by Sandip Soparrkar’s Ballroom Studio. Tao also danced with Sandip and on Sholay songs. Tao swirled, danced, hopped, back-stepped, jumped like a teenager, much to the delight of thousands who had come to see her. Soparrkar lifted her high and swung her around on stage as people gaped in total amazement.
“I like to live life to the fullest. That is what life is meant for, no?” she replied when we asked what drives her.
Surprisingly, Tao was born in India in 1918 in Pondicherry which was then under French rule. Her father was French and mother Indian but Tao was brought up by her relatives. After her mother died and father abandoned her, Tao travelled the world with her relatives. “I was exposed to different ideas and people at a young age and that helped my understanding of life,” she said.
“I was not even 10 when I first saw a group of people performing yoga. What they were doing to their bodies was lovely and I decided to join them,” she remembers. She did and also got drawn to a ‘socialist’ kind of thinking thanks to the books she read and her encounters with Mahatma Gandhi. When travelling, whenever she got a chance she supported protests led by groups affiliated to Martin Luther King and Charles de Gaulle.
“On the other side, I surprisingly got entwined with the glamour world. I got picked as a model in France around the same time,” confesses Tao. She bagged some plum assignments and travelled the world even more. Her next step was the movies and before long Tao got signed for Hollywood movies like Show Boat, The Last Time I saw Paris and many more. Cabaret and Ballroom dancing also happened and Tao gained fame as a dancer.
However sometime in 1960s, Tao took a break from the glamour world. “Yoga pulled me and after I met Sri Aurobindo, I decided Yoga it would be,” she said.
Tao then went to the US and set up Westchester Institute of Yoga in 1982. Eversince she has been travelling the world more as a Yoga teacher and less as a dancer but then when she hears music, her legs begin to tap. The words of the Sholay song she danced to, suit her well – Jab tak hai jaan, jane jahan main nachungi