In June 2014, Yanis Marshall, a finalist in the reality show Britain’s Got Talent, uploaded a video on YouTube. It has since received nearly 25 lakh hits. The video features Marshall and two of his crew members, dancing to Beyoncé’s classic hip-hop numbers like Crazy in Love (2003) and Single Ladies (2008). However, the most interesting bit is that Marshall — just like the singer — is dancing in six-inch heels. He doesn’t trip, and most certainly ‘slays it’ to quote some of the popular comments on the video. Following his social media fame, Marshall has been conducting worldwide workshops to popularise the dance form, especially among men.
Taking after Beyoncé, who propularised hip-hop in heels over the years, Mumbai-based dancer Mrigakshi Jaiswal is bringing this interesting form of dance to India. She learnt how to dance in tall heels at the Broadway Dance Centre in New York, and has even worked with Marshall in the past. “Dancing in heels requires formal training. One can’t just learn it from watching YouTube videos,” she says.
Jaiswal taught jazz and street hip-hop for seven years in Mumbai before shifting her focus to dancing in heels. She has been conducting workshops in Bengaluru, Delhi and Mumbai since April this year. And, you don’t have to be a runway model to attend one of these. “My workshops are about the expression of creativity through dance. You just need to get accustomed to balancing yourself in heels,” she says. Jaiswal, thus, prefers students who have a background in dancing.
Despite this prerequisite, Jaiswal’s workshops have gained popularity among participants who are 20 to 30 years old. “The biggest fear among participants is that they may trip and fall. But once the session is over, I feel they are more confident about it,” she says. Interestingly, Jaiswal’s workshops also attract a good number of men. “We had some 10 to 15 men is a class of 50 during our Mumbai workshop last month. They come to experiment the thrill of dancing in heels,” she says.
The ratio is rather impressive given the conservative Indian mindset. “Men associate wearing heels with being gay. Most of my male students don’t even get heels in their sizes in Mumbai. They have to borrow from their friends who live abroad,” she says.
However, as heels are known to enhance the femininity and grace in a woman’s body, Jaiswal believes that men should experience the dance form in an effort to get in touch with their feminine side. “I have interacted with some of my male students after the workshops. There was a change in their comfort level towards wearing heels. If they encourage their male friends, we can hopefully change the general mindset in the near future” she sums up.
The dos and don’ts for dancing in heels
* Always learn the dance form (be it jazz or hip-hop) before trying it out with heels.
* Start out with flats and then go on to dancing with heels. Once you are comfortable in heels, only then can you enjoy the dance form.
* Start out with two to three-inch heels. Try dancing in wide-base stilettoes or block heels before going on to higher, slimmer heels.
* Ensure that your heels provide support to your ankles. It is essential.
* Wear comfortable and stretchable attire.
What: Street Stilettos HipHop Heels with a Twist!
Where: Sangini House, Aram Nagar Part 1, JP Road, Andheri (W)
Call: 99300 29265
When: October 17 onward, every Thursday and Saturday.
Time: 4.30pm to 5.30pm onward
Entry: Rs 3,000 for eight classes