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Millennium Post

So you think you can dance?

Dance institutes across India are laughing all the way to the bank, thanks to parents’ new-found fascination for TV reality shows. ‘There is a big boom in the industry for the past two years. It is amazing to see how the mindset of parents has changed towards dance. They no more frown if their child wants to join a dance class,’ Atul Jindal, one of the founders of Delhi-based dance centre, said.
A qualified dancer from a New York institute, the 29-year-old, was initially disappointed with the lukewarm response when he decided to make dance his bread and butter. ‘It was extremely difficult for them (students) or us to convince parents that dance isn’t a waste of time. Today, the tables have turned,’ he said, adding that the response now is overwhelming enough to keep the staff busy from morning till evening. In the not too distant past, dance was confined to the ‘big, bad Bollywood’ – every parent’s nightmare. The only possible job profile one could think of was that of a choreographer. Hence, the taboo of dance continued. Till a flurry of dance reality shows changed the equation.

India’s pioneering dance reality show, Boogie Woogie, which went on air in 1995, laid the foundation for others like Dance India Dance, Just Dance, India’s Got Talent, Dancing Queen, Dance Premier League, Chak Dhoom Dhoom, Jhalak Dikhla Jaa and Nachle Ve that set the stage for the big leap. Even cities like Meerut in Uttar Pradesh are not left untouched. ‘The mentality towards dance is changing thanks to the reality shows,’ said Yasmani Shakya, a choreographer and teacher.
‘Earlier people didn’t know about different dance forms. They just knew Bollywood. But the push these shows have given to dance is manifold,’ said Shakya, adding people have moved on from the salsa and the tango and are now adding hip-hop, ballet and other forms to their repertoire.

Lured by the idea of fame and money, seeing their children on television, and meeting celebrities, is driving many parents blind. This herd mentality, at times, can be dangerous. ‘The middle-class aspirations for glamour can be dangerous. The taboo associated with dance is no more there, but not everyone can be a choreographer. You can pursue a passion as long as it feeds you,’ Lourd Vijay, founder of Lourd Vijay’s Dance Studio in Bangalore, said.

‘If you are good, reality shows are an excellent platform. But competition has become extremely tough. So one has to use one’s imagination, be observant and learn something every day to be successful,’ he added. Shambhu Kumar from Patna felt similarly. ‘It is a matter of pride for parents among the community if their child is on a dance show. Be it a small town or a big city, glamour sells and everyone wants to be associated with it,’ said Shambu, who founded his Music, Arts and Dance Academy in 2008.

From 15 students per class to 50 in a class, the enrolments are growing. But there’s a flip side. ‘When you see small children on these shows pouting and making vulgar gestures, you just wonder what their parents are thinking. There has to be an age limit. Isn’t it cruel? Where is the innocence left?’ Shambu asked. Many like Amit Jain balance their passion and studies.IANS

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