They say dancers don’t need wings to fly! In addition to enabling people to express themselves creatively, dance also helps them unwind physically, mentally as well as emotionally. Dance is related to a sense of belonging, identity, autonomy, perceived confidence and fosters the spirit of community. Being a professional dancer, however, is not a cakewalk and comes with its own set of arduous challenges. Let’s find out more through the eyes of some passionate professional dancers from Jaipur.
DANCING TO ME IS FREEDOM
– Devika Thirani
“Dancing to me is freedom. My freedom to express everything that I feel. It brings me immense peace and it’s that one thing that I can never let go”, says Devika Thirani (27), who’s been a professional belly dancer for six years now. Talking about what evinced her interest in dance, she says: “I fell in love with dancing since I was a kid. I love being under the spotlight! It’s because of dance that I can turn heads and have all eyes watching me”.
Inspired by Beyoncé and Shakira’s belly dance moves in the song ‘Beautiful Liar’, Devika left no stone unturned to learn to move like that. “For me belly dancing has brought the impact of body positivity in me. I was much thinner when I started dancing and I used to feel conscious about looking like a stick. The more I kept practising, I realized that it is not about my body but my mind which is pressurizing me to feel this way”, tells Devika.
Talking about the challenges she faced as a belly dancer, Devika says: “Firstly, dancing is a career that is not considered as a career but more of a hobby because of financial instability. But I am sure it is a soul-fulfilling choice for all the artistes out there. Secondly, as a belly dancer I am required to show some body but people look at you as if you’re a piece of meat ready to be pounced on.” Ask her how she deals with it and she says: “People will keep talking about what you do. Just make sure you give them great things to talk about with your passion and hard work”.
DANCING IS MY MEDITATION
– Garima Shitoot
“Dancing is my meditation. Apart from its obvious physical benefits, dancing is a great stress buster too. As a working mom, dancing helps me to get through my day with a lot of ease and joy. Dancing has also helped me to be consistent, resilient and disciplined in life”, believes Garima Shitoot (39), an expert in jazz, theater and bollywood dance.
Garima has been dancing professionally since 2003 and has trained with renowned national and international trainers. She has also performed several shows and productions. “Dance for me is synonymous with passion and happiness. It is my first love. Since childhood, I connected with this art form and felt at home with it. Movements and expressions came very naturally and spontaneously to me”, tells Garima while recounting her journey as a dancer.
Talking about the challenges she faced as a professional dancer, Garima adds; “Earlier dance as a career was not even heard of and a lot of explaining had to be done to convince family and friends about one’s choice of profession. Furthermore, safe dancing spaces are also not common in India as dancing on a hard floor can cause injuries. Sometimes dancing 7 days a week can also take a toll on your health.”
Giving a word of advice to aspiring dancers, she says: Training , hardwork and perseverance are the most important aspects if one wants to pursue dance professionally. As dance is not a mainstream career, one must be really passionate and invested to stay in the game.”
DANCING CHOSE ME
– Ranjani Bhattacharjee Kumar
“Whenever I am stressed or angry, I just tie my ghungroo and start my riyaaz so that I can transform all the negative energy in and around me into positive vibes”, says Ranjani Kumar Bhattacharjee (33), a professional Kathak dancer.
Ask Ranjani what made her choose dancing as a career and she says: “Dance chose me before I could choose dancing. I think I recognized the sound of Ghungroo ever since I was in my mother’s womb. I hail from a family of dance and music aficionados and I was introduced to dancing right in my childhood. In fact, my uncle is my Guru. ”
When Ranjani’s family was looking for a match for her, she often used to get unsolicited advice from the boy’s family about choosing dance only as a hobby and or giving up on it altogether after marriage. However, the support from Ranjani’s family kept her going and even though the income may not always stable, the huge satisfaction she gets from dancing makes up for it.
DANCING GIVES ME WINGS TO FLY
– Shefali Jain
A Company Secretary (CS) by qualification, Shefali Jain (29) left her corporate job seven years ago to pursue a career in dancing. A qualified Kathak dancer and a licensed international Zumba & Bollybeats instructor, Shefali has made over one lakh people dance to her beats across various organizations, corporates, colleges, gyms etc.
Working with a special focus on wedding choreographies and dance fitness now, Shefali cannot see her life sans dance. However, she too had to deal with countless suggestions and questions from people. “Earlier people used to advise my parents to make me study for competitive exams and not waste my time in dancing as it is not a lucrative career. Recently I got married and now people get surprised that my in-laws do not have a problem with my profession as a dance instructor”, tells Shefali.
“I believe if you are good in your work and put your heart and soul into it, nothing can really stop you!”, she further adds.
DANCE IS LIKE BREATHING TO ME
– Anshika Verma
From being a chubby girl in school and filled with angst through college, Anshika Verma (26) found her solace in dance. “Dancing has not only made me physically fit, mentally well but has also drastically increased my confidence. Dance is like breathing to me”, tells the young bachata trainer.
Anshika’s career as a professional dancer started with teaching social dancing to a few of her fellow dance friends. “There I got appreciation on my teaching techniques. So I decided to give it a chance and work towards my goal of becoming a bachata trainer.
Throwing light on the hurdles she faced in her journey, Anshika adds: “Dancing is one of the most important components of the entertainment industry, yet it is looked down upon and not considered to be a career choice for people of stature”. Not ready to be bogged down by these impediments, Anshika opines: “If you believe you’ve got it, you’re already there. Just one more step with some courage and the whole world is your stage.”
Kudos to these dancing queens who are taking the world by a storm one step at a time! Aren’t you too feeling inspired to shake a leg today? Don’t worry if you stumble, just make it a part of your dance!
DID YOU KNOW?
International Dance Day is a global celebration of dance, created by the Dance Committee of the International Theatre Institute, the main partner for the performing arts of UNESCO. The event takes place every year on 29 April, which is the anniversary of the birth of Jean-Georges Noverre, the creator of modern ballet.
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