My journey as a performing artist started when I was very young I can’t even remember when I started because I know that I would always watch my mom dance go to all of her events and get scared of looking at her with all of the heavy make up(lol). But I definitely remember doing dances with groups as a kid doing all forms of dance, and I remember always liking it. Dancing with friends at parties when I was young and then later preparing for the stage when I was about eight or nine years old. I learned from my mom for a while and then I think she realized I was too much to handle( lol). And then started formal training from a Classical dance teacher when I was 11.
I really loved and still love classical dance. I was always so excited to do it. But I also think that when kids learn classical when they’re younger sometimes if you don’t understand what it’s actually doing for you it can be hard to appreciate it. And I think that ties back into the mission of Meri Sanskriti. Because when I was in that middle school to high school age group not many of my school friends did classical so I often felt like I was the odd one. Even though I was a classical dancer and getting classically trained, I participated in almost every single Bollywood cinematic event I could in school, and also at family parties.
I love dancing and I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with it are used to love to watch the hip-hop dances and I knew that I wanted to learn different dance styles and I really enjoyed learning dance and growing myself as a dancer. There was a point in time when I was in 12th grade and I was picking majors I wanted to be a dance major but I felt like all of the tryouts would be geared towards hip-hop and actually when I was in seventh grade I had tried out for the school dance team which was hip pop and I didn’t make it because my strength was an Indian dance not and hip hop. I guess that contributed to me feeling like me doing classical was odd because everyone else I know was doing something different and I didn’t really have the same kind of skill level in freestyle hip-hop. During my high school years I took two years of ballet and I really enjoyed learning something new and also being able to apply myself.
But I do think that me not fully loving myself, the Indian part of myself that loved classical dance was a deep rooted reason why I chose to not choose dance as a major and take a break from dance in school. Because somewhere within me I was looking for external validation to accept myself, and a part of me was a classical dancer. When I didn’t see anyone validating my career choice, and since I didn’t trust my gut, I ended up choosing a “more logical major”.
Right before I went to college I ended up dropping classical and took a break for about two years from dancing completely as I went into college, and I can say that those two years were definitely not fun because I realize how much I loved and missed dance in my life. But I guess those were important years because sometimes something has to be taken away from you to realize the importance.
In college I started to dance with friends at different events and got back into learning contemporary and ballet. As I graduated college I joined a Bollywood fusion dance studio and shortly after became an instructor there and from then on started teaching Bollywood and really discovering myself as a dancer, and understanding what my style was, what I liked and didn’t like. But one thing I have realize is that this is definitely a passion of mine and I have had I was told that it’s something that is a calling for me so as much as I try to avoid or stop dancing dance will always follow me. And that’s truly what happened even when I stop teaching at the Bollywood studio, not even one day later I was asked to teach somewhere else.
I realize that Dance is definitely in my blood, so is teaching, and that’s when I really understood that this is something that has been given as a gift to me. It’s my duty to give back and truly empower others, who are just like me, who grew up here may be feeling like “because they like Indian things” they are weird in school, that they are odd, and having a not so great experience being Indian-American. That’s one stigma I would really like to help kids overcome, because I went through it and I really want people to know and understand that it’s OK to be Indian and that you can be Indian and American at the same time.
Now as an adult I am back to classical training and I absolutely love it I feel so alive when I do it and at the same time I made able to incorporate that with my own choreography and learn new dance styles at the same time and as a mature dancer I believe them I’m able to really differentiate the styles and understand who I am but the more that I go into it there’s so much more to dance then just moving to music. And the more that I think about and realize Dance is so deep and there’s so many different aspects to it and there can be truly continuous learning about dance.
If there’s one thing I must say is that if you are a dancer please don’t stop dancing! You have been given an incredible gift and I believe that we are here to share it with the world and inspire people inspire ourselves and share our passion by expression. Because if you look at dance, it’s a form of expression, you are expressing the emotions and intricacies of a story. It could be your own story or someone else’s, but you are expressing everything thats in you.
The Indian Girl
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