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Dancing to their beat

art-and-culture Updated: May 20, 2011 01:36 IST

Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

We profile four young dancers in the city and tell their stories.

Anurag Gulati:

If you thought professional dancers had it easy, then these youngsters will prove you wrong. Years of practice and dedication, endless hours of practice and a health regimen that rivals sportsmen goes into keeping them fit for any kind of performance. And, whatever the style- jazz, contemporary or ballet.It’s years before the dance begins to pay profitable dividends.

Manish Kangia, 20, who’s done his B (Tech) in information technology, says his parents often asked him to reconsider his choice of profession, while Sanchita Sharma, 20, who trained at Broadway, says she knows money can’t be her focus right now. We take a look at four such Delhi youngsters, who have chosen to dance to make their dreams come true.

RitikaChandra
20, ballet, been a professional dancer since class 12

Dance Idol: Svetlana Zakharova

What inspired Zakharova to become a ballet dancer was watching a ballet performance on TV when she was a little girl. And now, she has become a freelancer performer and a teacher. In her eight years of training, she has trained at the Russian Cultural Centre, Indian Fernando Ballet Company, National Ballet Academy and Academy Trust of India and Danceworx in India; Kirov Academy of Ballet (Washington DC), Washington Ballet Company, Cincinnati Ballet, and Tevlin Ballet Company (Ohio) abroad. 'When I auditioned for the summer programme of Kirov Academy and got the acceptance letter, it was a big achievement. At the time, I didn’t think I could get into such a great school', Zakharova says. To create a strong ballet culture here, she has started her Floor Barre classes. 'I miss being part of a dance company,' says this dancer who earns well enough to live on her own. Her parents were supportive of her decision and have always been there for her. 'Because of my mom, I’m a dancer', admits Zakharova.

Message: Overall fitness and the desire to excel is all you need.

ManishKangia
20, Jazz dancer, B (Tech) in Information Technology

Dance Idols: Mikhail Baryshnikov, Danny Tidwell

Heading one of the studios of Danceworx, Kangia holds a B.Tech degree in Information Technology from BVP, making him an engineer and a dancer. 'I joined Danceworx in my 2nd year of college. Seeing the spark in peoples’ eyes when they dance, and seeing myself grow as a dancer, is what pushed me to pursue this as a career,' he says.

His parents asked him to reconsider his decision time and again, 'but at times, you have to fight it out for your dream,’ he says. He has trained under the experience of professional teachers from overseas in the Danceworx Company. 'I feel lucky to have reached through to so many people in such a short time,' he says.

Kangia sees himself as teaching and influencing dance in India on a much bigger scale in next five years, along with increasing his international exposure. 'To dance and to spread awareness about it is my focus,' he says.

Message: 'Educating yourself about dance is important. That combined with regular training and a strong belief will lead you to become a good dancer. It is possible only if you think it is.'

Karan Kumar
25, Contemporary dance Botony Honours from Khalsa College

Dance Idol: Mia Michaels

One of the directors of the Big Dance Centre, Kumar took up the medical line after the 10th grade, but was always inclined towards creativity. 'I was introduced to contemporary dance during college, and ballet came naturally to me', he says. Having trained at Sadhya (Contemporary Dance Academy), India Fernando Ballet Company and The Broadway Dance Centre, he says, 'Sadhya gave me performance, and Broadway Dance Center gave me growth and technique.' He has also started a professional dance study programme for people who want to pursue dance as a career. A participant in DID doubles, Kumar says, 'I went there to create awareness about the contemporary dance form.'

In the future, he wants to own a company of about 20 dancers with the best mindset and best bodies, make a musical, and perform a ballet piece in Bolshoi Theatre, Russia.

Message: 'Don’t be rigid, be flexible, follow discipline, and try to be perfect in your work.'

SanchitaSharma
20, jazz dancer, Psychology (Hons) from DU

Dance Idols: Jeanine Mason, Derek Mitchelle

She joined dance classes at the Danceworx in 2002, and when she saw the level of dancing there and realized that this could be an opportunity for her in the future, she chose dancing as her life path after her psychology honours degree. 'I really want to make dancing a culture and a vocation here', says Sharma. She started her training in 2007, and now is in the Danceworx Company. Having attended classes at Broadway, Alvin Ailey, Lines Ballet (San Francisco), and Hubbard Street Dance (Chicago), she now wants to bring the equivalent level of dancing here. She hopes to initiate a degree course in dance in India in the future.

'Money varies in this field, but that is not my focus right now,' she says. Being a foodie, she makes sure that she doesn’t eat too much junk, and works on the right muscles to keep in shape. 'If you start to compare yourselves with others in the field, there is no end to comparisons. You need to be completely thorough, know your dream, and follow it.'

Message: 'Things happen, but if you really want to do it, you will find a way to connect the dots. Don’t be so impressionable and start following just anybody.'