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Footloose: Dance as a career

How often have you been so moved by a particular dance performance that you wished and prayed that you could move with the same grace? In this age of unconventional careers, a career in dance is both an exciting and lucrative option, writes Komal Mehta

‘Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, will you join the dance?,’ Lewis Carrol, Alice In Wonderland

A combination of hard work and fun, not only does dancing pay well, it’s also one of those rare fields where your success depends on your sheer talent and not on your marksheet.

Classical Dance:
It is the most common and sought after careers in dance. There are a number of different sub-fields in classical dance such as kathak, bharatnatyam, odissi etc. “Classical dance students must be both physically and mentally strong and must not be depressed by a few initial failures,” says Jhelum Paranjape, a trained Odissi dancer. Two essential traits that anyone interested in learning classical dance must possess are an open minded attitude and extreme dedication. Career opportunities for a professionally trained classical dancer include teaching other students, performing at shows in India and abroad and even modelling (in ads that require classical dancers).

Folk Dance:
Although folk dancing may seem like a branch of classical dancing, it is actually quite different. Folk dance includes regional dance forms such as Garba, Dandiya, Bhangra, Ghumar, Ras leela, Nautanki etc. Folk dance is best learnt under a well experienced teacher. According to Hetal Shah, a professional garba dancer, this is a field where the dancer “mixes style with tradition”.
Outside out of its state of origion, folk dancing is popular in countries with a large NRI population like the USA, UK, Canada and the UAE. Locally the demand for folk dancers varies according to the seasonal i.e. they are in high demand during festivals like Baisakhi, Navratri, Diiwali etc.

Freestyle/ Jazz Ballet:
Freestyle is a form of dance that has been popularised by the likes of Shiamak Davar and Terrence Lewis. The best way to learn is from a well known institute such SDIPA (Shiamak Davar’s Institute of Performing Arts). SDIPA is the premiere learning institute for a number of different styles of dancing like modern Jazz, Afro-Jazz, Salsa and Hip-Hop. Although there is a lot of glamour involved, being a part of Shiamak’s dancing troupe is one tough job. Karen Pereira, an instructor at SDIPA says, “Dancing requires a lot of spirit and a lot of hard work. The feet may learn the steps, but only the spirit can dance”.
At SDIPA, there are four levels of learning, on the completion of which one can become a part of the institute either as an instructor, in the administration section or in the events section.

Latino dance:
Latino dance includes Salsa, Rumba, Rock n Roll, Waltzing and Jiving. One of the most interesting and fast emerging fields of dance, it is a little difficult to master at the beginning. Also, there are a only few institutions that teach salsa dances professionally as genuine Latino dancers are tough to find. Trained dancers may start teaching independently or even go on to conducting their own shows .

Film Dancing:
Bollywood ahoy! Dancers can also find work in feature films and performing at stage shows. Roman Sarkar, an Assistant Choreographer says, “I had a passion for dance since childhood, it was a hobby that later turned into profession”. Like almost every career associated with glamour, making it in films requires a lot of patience. Although there are no direct ways of breaking into this field, interested people can enroll with a particular dance-coordinator – a lot like model-coordinators, they co-ordinate between meetings and auditions betweens wannabes and the head choreographer.

“We dance for laughter, we dance for tears, we dance for madness, we dance for fears, we dance for hopes, we dance for screams, we are the dancers, we create the dreams”.

Nalanda NrityaKala Mahavidyalaya:
It offers a number of certificate and hobby courses and also provides degree courses in dancing.
Address: plot A-7/11, N.S. Road No. 10, J.V.P.D. Scheme, Vile Parle(West). Mumbai – 400 049
Tel: 022-26206326
Visit www.nalandadanceeducation.com

Founded by Mrs.Jhelum Paranjape, it offers hobby and professional courses in Odissi dance.
Address: Sane Guruji Arogya Mandir, 5 /VI, Chunabhatti, Off S.V. Road, Santacruz (West), Mumbai 400 054.
Tel: 022-26615463/ 6398
Email: info@smitalay.com
Visit www.smitalay.com

Shiamak Davars Institute of Performing Arts (SDIPA):
Offers 4 levels of courses at the end of which a particular student may be selected to be a part of the Shiamak Davar’s dancing troupe.
Address: Head Office – C-19, Everest, J. Dadaji Road, Tardeo, Mumbai 400 034. SDIPA has 33 centers all over Mumbai.
Tel: 022-23512481
Email: dipa@shiamak.com
Visit www.shiamak.com

Sandip Soparkar:
One of the pioneers in introducing professional salsa dance courses in Mumbai.
Address: ‘Jayshika’, 59, Jaihind society, JVPD scheme, Mumbai.
Tel: 022-26284044.

Quick Step:
Founded by Anand Majumdar, this institute specialises in ballroom/Latino dances. Centers in Andheri, Juhu, Bandra and South Mumbai,
Tel: Deepa Karkera 022-32519381/ Anand Majumdar 98201-46788
E-mail: anand_majumdar@hotmail.com

Career Prospects: One Step At A Time
Just like any other creative field, deciding to become a dancer is a matter of individual choice combined with intense passion for the art form. A career in dance requires firm dedication and unlimited hard work – years may pass before you get that lucky break or before you gain recognition for your talent. The going may be almost predictably rough, and especially slow and taxing in the beginning. Initially the money may be scarce but if you have the talent, the sky is the limit!
However, more than talent, it’s your inate passion for dance that will stand you in good stead. “One must feel the inner bliss while dancing” says Mrs. Paranjape,”Then everyday is a new dance!”.

Perks and Pangs:
Among the perks are the various scholarships that the government provides to (folk and classical dance) students who represent the country on the international stage. There are also state level reservations for exceptionally talented students. Also being a dancer is one of the most creatively satisfying and liberating of all professions. No 9 to 5 routines, no boring files to go through – it is the expression of yourself and the world is your stage.
On the minus side, there may sometimes be comparisons between dancing and more “secure” jobs like engineering. Also, societal attitudes towards dancing for films or Latino dancing may not always be positive.

There is some debate about the ideal age at which to take up dance but the fact is that there is no specific age. “It is never to late to start dancing,” says Mrs. Paranjape, who started learning dance in her college days. So once you make up your mind about it, you are ready to roll; there are no obstacles except the ones in your mind.

Conclusion: “To dance or not to dance…? Silly question!”- Willem Wikkelspies

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