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DANCE

3 Dance Performances That Draw Beauty From Pain

Dancers whose sway to the rhythm of words and use their craft to paint a bittersweet image of our struggles.

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Dance Covers

Dancing is a form of art – expression art. And expressing yourself through your body movements isn’t only possible when met with the beats of music; dancing and spoken word goes well together too, really well. Expression through dancing can also be achieved when combined with the rhythm and pace of the words spoken. We bring you three dance pieces from some talented performers who beautifully mine gorgeous moves from dark corners of our minds and allow us an escape.

Bharatnatyam is one of the most expressive dance forms; with its tiniest detailed technique for performing, it is one of the dance forms that go really well with spoken word. Although Performing Bharatnatyam on spoken word is going beyond the traditionally set boundaries for the dance form; Isha Parupudi and Sophia Salingaros take their craft beyond the boundaries and perform this piece so beautifully. With the help of abhinaya the two dancers beautifully paint a picture of the struggles of a person dealing with depression or poor mental health.

[Credits: Youtube (IndianRaga)]

Kathak is another traditional dance form that carries its beauty within the details of the performance and the swift coordination of the different parts of the performers’ body. The word ‘Kathak’ literally means ‘Story’ hence the performers often weave a story within their performance.

With the stigma that surrounds mental health, many struggling with it do not dare open up as it can be really overwhelming. Every weight is bearable when shared; hence normalizing conversation around mental health is so important. Anindita Neogy moves her feet for people struggling with their mental health alone and through her performance urges them to open up.

[Credits: Youtube (Anindita Neogy)]

Normalizing conversation surrounding mental health also include opening up about our own struggles, assuring others struggling that they are not alone and their struggles are valid. ‘A Brighter Place’ is such a step by 5 Indian artists who use their craft to express and share their own struggles with mental health the lockdown of previous year brought them. Performed by Harsha Maheshwari, Priya V Kumar, Nenita Praveen, Preeti Bharadwaj and music composed and performed by Tao Issaro, the piece is beautifully put together. Raw expressions of self-struggles, the artists have done a commendable job. Each story is different in its own form yet they fit together to form ‘A Brighter Place’ like puzzle pieces.

[Credits: Youtube (Nenita Praveen)]

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DANCE

Stepping Through One Song And Many Beats: Ankit Sati

A passionate dancer and actor, Ankit Sati talks about the incredible circumstances that he has had to navigate in his journey so far.

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Ankit Sati

When we begin our conversation, he immediately makes it a point to keep the conversation as casual and comfortable as possible. That, at the very outset, tells me that Ankit Sati is an individual who is more about people than anything else. As he talks about his journey so far, there is almost always a slight chuckle as he finishes his sentences. You see, Sati can initially come off as a person who just has this aura of being friendly and laid back. However, as he talks more, I realise that there are layers to this man. And dance, perhaps, is amongst the most prominent one of them.

Raised in Delhi, Sati states that dance was, initially, just a hobby. Growing up, he remembers the numerous shows on television and, perhaps, it was that certain allure of watching people match their steps to a single beat that drew him to the art form of dance. When he finished his secondary education, he pursued dance, not professionally, but just as something that he was passionate about. Some time later, unfortunately, Sati’s father passed away. At that point in time, he was faced with the idea of having to contribute, in some way, to his family’s financial needs. Tearing himself away from what he loved, he started working in sales. It was only when a teacher, at the institute he learnt dance in, offered him a teaching position that he saw an opportunity to be reacquainted with something that he loved doing. Even so, that period of time was an incredibly difficult time for him. He would have to not only manage his own passion for dance and earn a living from it but also work towards helping his family recover from the financial distress that they were in at the time.

Credit: YouTube (Ankit Sati)

Sati has been a part of many different collaborative projects. When talking where his initial interests lay, in the context of dance, Sati reveals that he was drawn to contemporary and jazz dance forms. Being part of a collaborative body and larger projects is always engaging, however, in the conversation, Sati talks about where he puts his focus on. To him, creating and conceptualizing his own choreographed sets and routines has always been a major draw for him. Having creative control over where he can take a certain set or routine is something that not only is more aligned with his artistic goals but also allows him to experiment with what he has learned so far. 

Sure, his time working with others and participating in previous competitions are important. However, what is most important to realise is that he sees those as building blocks to his journey. There is so much scope to what he can do with dance as an art form and as a commercial venture. He understands this on a more personal level and wishes to create a body of work, his current work notwithstanding, that is aimed not only at fulfilling his own creative agency but also in providing a sense of entertainment for the audience.

Credit: YouTube (Ankit Sati)

On the topic of providing a sense of entertainment to his audience, Sati speaks about where he sees himself in the future. Pleasantly surprising me, Sati reveals that he is a trained actor. Something that has always drawn him is the idea of broadway musical productions, where the performers sing, dance and act on their own. There is no concept of separate performers in that space of creativity. That is something that he wants to explore but in a manner that makes it more accessible to a more general audience. In his words, I sense an individual who is constantly looking to do more, not just in terms of the just one form he is a part of but also in other creative fields that he is willing to learn.

When I ask him about acting, he reveals that he has always been a Bollywood kid. Although, he is not particularly sure about acting, but if given a great opportunity, he would love to try it. A professional dancer and a trained actor, he is also in the process of becoming a rapper, singer and music producer. He aspires to present himself as a complete performer. But despite all his gifts, he currently focuses on dancing and wishes to perform on his own songs and create content with artistic freedom.

Credit: YouTube (Ankit Sati)

Perhaps, I assume too much. However, Sati’s journey has, in a way, moulded him into an individual who is consistently pushing forward. That is not to say that he does not care for his previous accomplishments. That is far from the truth. In point of fact, when he talks about some of the hardships that he and his family had to face, after his father’s demise, he states that he is incredibly grateful to be where he is at. Looking back at how far he has come, he realises that, while there is always more that could be done, his present achievements and body of work is something that has taken a lot of work and consistent effort to bring into being.

And, it is exactly that thought that he would want to leave you with. A sense of honest reflection in all the efforts and the work that you put in. Hard work and perseverance are important, of course. However, he stresses on the importance of being smart in your efforts. Branching from that same train of thought, he explains how it is important to realise the importance of your audience in determining the success of your work. There is this idea of disregarding what others say about you, and while that may seem to be something that is beneficial to do, it is also equally to take into context what the general perception of the world around you is like. All of this comes from his own experiences. And, you can be absolutely sure, that Ankit Sati, regardless of how far he has come, will never disregard the lessons that his experiences have taught him.

Credit: YouTube (Ankit Sati)

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DANCE

Feel the Music and Let the Beats Guide You: Abhishek Vernekar

Dancer and Choreographer, Abhishek Vernekar discusses his passion for the performance-art and what it means to him.

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Abhishek Vernakar

Rhythm has not escaped anyone. Even as feet tap to the beats of music while sitting in the metro, or hands try to learn that one trendy step from a recent popular Bollywood song. Dance as a form of art, culturally, has been one of the most prevalent forms of expression. We dance to celebrate, in joy and in excitement. This movement to rhythm is away from a critique based on techniques and does not run after perfectionism. It is very much a part of everyday life, and by virtue of that, awards freedom for anyone to indulge in it. This freedom may be one of the reasons why we have so many self-trained dancers who reach great heights, solely because they find their passion in these general rhythmic movements and practice to perfect it. They learn and they polish themselves as artists to make it their profession. 

Such is also the story of Abhishek Vernekar, a self-trained and self-made dancer and choreographer, whose persistence to find his true potential resulted in his success story. 

Abhishek’s first performance on stage happened when he was nine years old. It was enough to make him realise that dance made him happy. Plus, he adds, Bollywood also played a part in making him discover his passion for the art form. Having never gotten the opportunity to learn from a professional, Youtube videos came to his rescue. He recalls that initially when he would attend workshops led by various artists, he would feel embarrassed of not knowing dance terminologies that other participants did. However, he would always do an internet search of the moves that were taught and learn them properly. He mentions a notebook in which he would note them down, a habit that he still maintains. 

“My journey has helped me shape my character and become the person I am now.”

Things did not work themselves out for him on their own, but it was his firm decision and dedication that led to where he is now. It was while he was interning in Bangalore, a few years back, when he decided to take a break from pursuing MBA. He quit all of it to focus on dancing to build his career because it was the only thing that made him happy. He believes in the force of persistence, something that has driven his journey. Talent, he believes, can be acquired through long hours of practice and hard work. According to him, it is the only way to discover the true potential one is capable of. 

“Practice makes a man perfect, however cliche this may sound, it is the only mantra every dancer should apply in their life.”

And now, as his decisions have led to professional fulfillment, he offers his advice to young dancers. “You have to give your best and put your heart and soul into anything you do. Feel the music and let the beats guide you.”, he says. Drawn from his own experiences, he has an understanding of the struggles that every amateur artist would face. Having never gotten the chance to be trained professionally, he has made it a point to train and share his knowledge with those interested to make their journey easier than it was for him. 

Dance for him has been like meditation. He explains that it helps him gather his thoughts and achieve a sense of inner peace. More than that, however, dance offers to him a way to deal with the problems and pressures of life, as well as providing an escape from its mundanity.

“’Best’ is a label. It’s something someone else decides for you. ‘Better’ is more personal.”

Everybody strives to become the best at what they do. Often, running after that goal makes you lose track of your own progress. While ‘best’ is a measurement criterion that concerns others, Abhishek believes in focusing on your own progress as a measure of your growth. To young dreamers out there, he suggests this very piece of advice. That is, to not dilute your goal simply to become the best. Work hard and tackle challenges with perseverance and self-confidence as you embark on the journey of your passion. As he combines passion and hard work to emphasize the importance of both, he points out that remaining true to yourself and to your art is of utmost importance. And like everybody, Abhishek too has pondered upon the importance of dreaming. He sums his understanding in eight words alone when he says:

“The more you dream, the more you work.”

Credits: YouTube (Abhishek Vernekar)
Credits: YouTube (Abhishek Vernekar)
Credits: YouTube (Abhishek Vernekar)
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DANCE

Looking Beyond That One Single Beat: Arunima Dey

The incredibly gifted Arunima Dey gives us a peek into her passion for dance and her attempts to take the art form even further.

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Arunima Dey

There is a strong sense of individualism in her words. It is, perhaps, a direct reflection of her journey so far. You see, ever since she has started, Arunima Dey has been blazing her own path, fighting and working for everything that she has now. Her passion for dance has not only made her pursue it professionally but also helped her to grow from a personal standpoint. There is little that she is not willing to take upon herself when it comes to creatively exploring, even further, all that dance has to offer. After all, she has never been one to see something as being too daunting.

Born in Delhi and raised in Mumbai, Dey has been involved with dance ever since she can remember. Her mother, first, introduced her to the classical form of Bharatnatyam when she was still a child. Of course, she also went for bollywood choreography, with her and the other children, she grew up with, imitating the steps they saw on screen. A particularly impactful incident was when she went for one of Shiamak Davar’s dance classes. Only eighteen then, Dey recalls that experience as being completely transformational for her.

That’s not to say that she immediately decided to pursue the art form of dance professionally. No. In fact, Dey was all set to pursue an academic career. However, realising that dance was something that she was truly passionate about, she could not bring herself to pursue anything else. Confident in her own decision, her next step was to convince her parents. Recalling that period of time as being difficult, she fought hard to make her parents believe in what she believed in. And, while there was some initial resistance, they did come around eventually. As a matter of fact, her father, even, aided her financially when she was building out her first studio. That, she says, was something that she could have never expected.

Credit: YouTube (Arunima Dey)

Dey, now, realises that the last ten to twelve years were probably what could be construed as the ‘journey’ that most people have. Mind you, this was all happening during the period of transition between the pre-social media and post-social media era. Artists, like Dey, were still figuring out the best possible way to reach out to a larger audience. From convincing her parents to grappling with her own uncertainty about whether her decision was going to work out in the long run, she now looks back at all of that with fondness. You see, as she asserts, we become who we are through the experiences we have. 

Even so, Dey describes her approach now as being something that she was initially hesitant about. For all those years, she had been doing everything on her own. When she finally had a team of her own, the idea of delegating the jobs that she, herself, had managed so far was almost terrifying. Having spent years perfecting herself at every aspect of her craft, she, often, wondered about whether the person, she would be delegating a certain task to, would be approaching it with the same zeal and passion that she did. It did work out, however. Placing her faith in members of her own team allowed her to not only focus on the core aspects of her craft but also helped her grow as an individual. In point of fact, having people who look up to her and trust her to do what is best for the team is one of her driving motivations.

Credit: YouTube (Arunima Dey)

When talking about a particularly trying time, Dey goes back to 2016. From a personal standpoint, there was a whole lot of disillusionment with the direction that the dance school, she was with at the time, was heading towards. It had gotten to a point that she was considering quitting and going back to pursue a traditional academic career. That was a particularly difficult decision on her part because, by then, she had given five years to pursuing dance. However, a phone call with one of her students, at the time, gave her the needed courage to keep going. The two aren’t in touch now but Dey is incredibly grateful for that conversation. Soon after, Dey branched away from her mentor, looking to carve her own path and make her own choices in regards to where she wanted to take dance as an artform and as a craft.

I keep mentioning that Dey sees dance as an art form and a craft rather than a profession because that’s exactly what she does. Of course, she has established herself in the industry. However, she never approached dance as being a seemingly conventional ‘career’. For her, dance has always been pushing herself to do more with the art form, pushing her students to do more. The idea of artistic creativity lies at the core of her passion for dance. As she states, the most incredible feeling for her is when she is at a dance class, either as a teacher or a student. It is at that time that she feels truly connected to herself, with every other feeling paling in comparison.

 Being in a dance class, either teaching or as a student, is the most luxurious feeling I’ve had.

Arunima Dey

For years now, Dey has been consistently building her own path, her only companions being her own determination and belief. There has been a lot of work put into it and that’s something, as she says, that is integral to success. Regardless of the existence of innate talent, persistent effort and work, according to her, are the primary determinants of how far you go.

Indeed, that is the same advice to anyone who asks for it. Personal drive, a determined focus on what you want and the idea of doing things in a manner that is reflective of your passion for it are the three key things that can decide whether you actually achieve what you set out to do. Personally, looking at all that she has achieved, I think Arunima Dey just described who she is as an individual.

Credit: YouTube (Arunima Dey)
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DANCE

The Journey Of A Thousand Pattering Feet: Vinayak Ghoshal

Teacher, dancer and the founder of ‘Natya Social’, Vinayak Ghoshal gives us a peek into a life fully lived and realised.

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Vinayak Ghoshal

When we begin our conversation, he has just gotten done with a shoot. Still, he approaches our conversation with more energy and enthusiasm than I could ever give him credit for. Vinayak Ghoshal is, indeed, a rare individual, able to find happiness in the tiniest of things. He speaks eloquently, dances beautifully and, perhaps, most importantly, he teaches passionately. Founder of the celebrated ‘Natya Social’, Ghoshal has a wealth of experience behind him, things he has learnt and grown from, and he is, in point of fact, quite happy to share that with you.

Born in the bustling metropolis of Mumbai, Ghoshal reveals that dance was never more than a hobby, originally. Yes, it was something that he loved doing, sure, but he never truly saw it as his calling until much later in his life. Initially, having pursued a degree in Mass Media, he was deeply passionate about pursuing a career in the field of Journalism and Advertising. As he explains, when pursuing his bachelor’s degree, he felt especially drawn to the field of Advertising, realizing his interests lay in creating and conceptualizing content that was aimed towards the masses.

Credit: YouTube (Natya Social)

Parallel to this, Ghoshal, known for his choreography, owing to his lifelong passion for dance, was regularly engaged in teaching classes for students from his school. And while the pay wasn’t anything spectacular, as he, himself, says, it was enough to keep a college going kid happy. Even so, noticing his aptitude for instructing others in dance, the parents of his students regularly extended invitations for him to come and teach them a choreographed set during ceremonies and events. That, he explains, further supplemented his earnings when he was attending college.

When college got over, however, Ghoshal found himself faced with the need to find something fast. And, while he worked in a few places as an intern, he never found it to be rewarding enough. It was during his time, working as an intern, that he also discovered that he was dyslexic. Faced with the idea of not being able to work in the industry that he was so in love with, Ghoshal took up a job at Haptik. Soon enough, a friend of his brought a certain opportunity to his attention. An established director was putting up a musical in Delhi and needed an assistant choreographer to help with the dance routines in the play. Ghoshal jumped at this chance. After all, this was something he loved doing. 

“The director had told me that he would give me a job after the project and things would work out.”

Vinayak Ghoshal

However, when the musical was over, despite having been promised a continuing collaboration with the director, Ghoshal was dejected to realize that the ‘promised opportunity’ was never what he hoped it would be. He was told to look for work on his own and if there was any need for him, later, he would get a call. Ghoshal had left his job for this. 

Never one to sit still, Ghoshal took up a job at an international call centre, where he spent the next eight months, working diligently. It was only when he saw the movie, ‘Tamasha’, that he drew parallels between his life and what he had just seen. He wanted more, needed more from his life. Doing some self-searching, Ghoshal realised that he had been blind to something that was ever so apparent to him: All his life, he had been in love with dancing. His real journey began then.

Credit: YouTube (Natya Social)

Throughout the conversation, I got the feeling that Vinayak Ghoshal is not the kind of person to do anything in a half-hearted manner. And, for once, I was right. Ghoshal threw himself into building the foundations of his craft without any reservations. He went on to enroll himself in dance classes, while simultaneously working as a dance instructor, himself, for school-going children. While searching for tracks to set his instructional routines to, he stumbled across the world of content creation around dance on YouTube. To be frank, as he admits, he never paid much attention to it then. It was only when one of his teachers wanted someone to help a certain creative team, for a choreographed set, that Ghoshal understood that there was a whole market revolving around choreography around Bollywood tracks. That creative team was ‘Team Naach’.

His experience with Sonal Devraj and Nicole Concessao of ‘Team Naach’, coupled with the constant urging on their part, emboldened Ghoshal to start his own YouTube channel. Working diligently to establish himself in the field of dance, he made it a point to only invite Sonal and Nicole to work with him on a video once he had crossed a certain threshold of followers on his channel. That is how ‘Natya Social’ actually began.

As Ghoshal dives into discussing his journey, he recalls the reception that his choreographed set for ‘Mitwa’ garnered. The response to that video was so positive that Ghoshal found the workshops that he held to be absolutely booked to capacity. ‘Mitwa’ holds a special place in his journey, with it being the first video, of the many to come as of then, to be met with the recognition that he, truly, deserved. 

Credit: YouTube (Natya Social)

Even so, Ghoshal believes that hanging on to the idea of a singular aspect of dance is not conducive. In fact, he believes that dance, as a creative art form, is consistently evolving. And this is especially important for him as a dance instructor. As of now, where the idea is to go for as large as an audience as possible, it becomes especially challenging to navigate a world where some pursue dance merely to garner a following. And, while that is never something that Ghoshal is hesitant to acknowledge and appreciate, keeping the idea of relevance and your intended audience is what he prioritizes.

Speaking about priorities and future goals, when asked about what his next steps are, Ghoshal surprises me with his response. Over the years, he has gone to build and set in stone, figuratively, of course, a world where he has been able to reach out to a massive audience, teaching and imparting his own knowledge and passion for dance as an art form. Now, as he reveals, he looks to start something new, hinting at a new channel for markedly different content. Don’t panic. Dance is an irreplaceable part of his life and I am sure he will not be able to bring himself to completely leave it behind.

“We are not sure about what we are going to do on that particular new channel. It can be anything.”

Vinayak Ghoshal

Ghoshal has had a tremendous journey, punctuated with highs and lows. He has persevered through it all, fighting against whatever was thrown at him. However, when asked about what he is especially proud of, he, bluntly, states that there is nothing he is proud of. Don’t get me wrong. He has accomplished a lot, from getting ‘Natya Social’ officially registered as a company to practically building an empire. However, as he goes on to explain ‘Everything is temporary’. Your successes and failures are, both, temporary. It is crucial that you look forward to the next experience while enjoying the process of it all.

If there is one thing that he would want you to take from this whole thing, it would, perhaps, be this. You see, he is not going to talk about consistent practice, perseverance or hard work. As he states, that is already an established notion. What he stresses on, however, is kindness and compassion. Be nice to those around you. At the end of it all, your journey won’t matter much if you look back and see that you have left a trail of people you have been unkind to. And, when he looks back, you can be absolutely positive that Vinayak Ghoshal will only see the smiles and laughter he has helped bring about.

Credit: YouTube (Natya Social)
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DANCE

Dancers Whose Performances Are A Perfect Blend Of Enrapture and Talent

Check out these talented performers whose moves go beyond music and who use rhythm to deliver the message hidden.

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Dance Covers

Dancing is art, a form of performing art. It involves language of expression of emotions through body movements and rhythm. Dancing opens several dialogues between the doer and the watcher. It isn’t merely about the body movements in accordance with music, it has more to it. The ability to narrate a story with the dance moves and express yourself freely are some of the many layers of the art of dancing.

Cover artists usually re-enact the moves of the original dance set, however, some also change them and add their own twist to it. Experimenting is also a side of the realm of dance covers; performing a classical form of dance – say Kathak – to the beats of modern K-pop music is not only intriguing but also a great fusion.

The first performance cover, we have with us, is from Rohit Gijare on YouTube. It is performed by Rohit & Aaliya on the song ‘Saathiya’ by A.R.Rahman and Sonu Nigam. The couple dances to the beats of the modern pop music. Dressed in classical fits, they execute the performance filled with classical moves blended with some freestyle moves with ease. The performance is fun to watch and really reflects the dynamics of the couple well. With the facial expressions changing as the song demands and coordinating with that of the partner, the duo does a good job at the cover.

The choreography is made by the performers themselves and is executed perfectly in a lovely setting of a living room.

Credits: YouTube (Rohit Gijare)

Up next we have a cover on the song that a lot of us hold dear to our hearts; from a movie responsible for thousands of youngsters getting a Journalism degree. These dance moves on Kabira are made by Sachini Nipunsala and is performed by her along with Melony Anthony & Kushara Dissanayake. With nothing too complex of moves, the performance is really pleasing to watch. The choreography seems to be a fusion of freestyle moves with some Indian classical dance steps. The perfect synchronization and the sharply clean moves serve as a highlight for the cover.

Credits: YouTube (Sachini Nipunsala)

Lastly, we have Swetha Naidu dancing to the latest Tollywood viral hit ‘Saranga Dariya’ choreographed by Rajendra Raj. The set for the performance – a countryside scene – fits the mood of the song really well. Dressed in colorful ghaghra-choli, Swetha delivers the performance full of energy. The direction and videography highlights the dance moves at certain points really well – doing justice to the catchiness of the song and the choreography. Her movements are fast but elegant; with sharp yet pleasing facial expressions, Swetha expresses the bubbly fun side of herself greatly. You definitely don’t want to miss this one out!

Credits: YouTube (Dancing Divas)
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