Life Reboot III

Life Reboot III – ‘How I Battled My Fears’

Life Reboot III

He would always discourage my poet father from writing poems, even punish him. Fortunately, my father’s perception about art was just the opposite. At the age of 3, he sent me to a dance school to learn Kathak -an Indian classical dance form. But the general mood in my small, sleepy town of Shivpuri reflected that of my grandfather’s — art doesn’t pay. Though, I am grateful that my father encouraged me to pursue dance, I was initially sceptical about taking it up as a career.

How would pay my bills? But I was to be proved wrong! In 2004, after completing my graduation I moved to the state capital, Bhopal. Though not a metro, it was still a big city. However, here too I faced taunts as I could not converse in good English. I was often ridiculed for not having a ‘good personality’. Unable to find a good job I enrolled in an air-hostess training course.

But still I could not get a job because of a scar on my forehead. Finally, I decided to move to Delhi, but could only find a job at a BPO. Though my employees were good, I felt I was an artist trapped in a BPO. You can imagine how my free, creative spirit would have felt about targets, endless calls, meetings and insane shifts. I had resigned to a life of mediocrity and never thought that it was possible for me to become a respected artiste, choreographer.

Graveyard shifts meant my body rhythm had gone haywire. Lack of sleep meant I didn’t have the energy left to dance. The meagre salary meant, I could only afford a single bed in small PG accommodations, where most of the times there wasn’t even enough space to stand, let alone dance. I later moved on to the tech support team at HCL, and life was marginally better. By 2011, things began to look up for me. I started participating in cultural events at our office after a friend talked me into it.

One of my dance performances at an office event (Talent Council Election) caught everyone’s imagination. I started getting noticed and was praised by the top management. I helped start a culture of art encouragement at HCL. Though I did not possess an MBA degree, I was asked to join the HR team as an Employee Relations Executive.

Meanwhile, my roommate helped me with my English speaking. I was allaying my fears, one at a time. In 2003, I finally quit my job and started teaching dance at the Delhi Dance Academy in Lajpat Nagar and at various schools. It was physically tiring, but soul-satisfying. I later moved on to a bigger studio in Kalkaji called Dancercise. By 2014, I had an impressive number of students, including a few foreigners. I also realised that nobody, not even the foreigners, cared about my English.

They only cared about my teaching skills. And I can make anyone dance. I may sound immodest, but I first move people’s souls and then move their feet. I soon started putting dance tutorial videos on YouTube. One of my dance tutorial videos on YouTube garnered over of one crore views. Most of my videos were receiving views between 20-80 lakhs. Soon, I began getting invitations from the likes of Google for conducting special training sessions.

I was part of the recently organised YouTube Fanfest, 2018. And today I feel proud to be a bonafide artiste — a small town girl, who learnt that there is no point in holding ourselves back from dreaming big. Life came full circle, when residents, artiste associations and municipal bodies of Shivpuri recognised my work and showered me with awards and accolades. To help my town dream big, last year I organised a dance workshop for kids. My father recently wrote a poem on me. Dream on, dance on, live on!

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