Fr Carlos Luis SAC
When national champion Ivanna Gomes hit the 10K followers mark on Instagram, her friends and dedicated fan following began to shower her with their blessings and wishes.
Ivanna Gomes, a Loutolim-based dancer, model, makeup artist and DIY fashion designer, considers herself just an artist who indulges quite a bit in her creative side.
Elated, Ivanna describes her bountiful feeling, “After all the hard work that's gone into crossing 10k, it feels amazing. Gaining the first few thousand was difficult. I constantly doubted myself. Is my content not good enough, or am I not on par with the rest? But still, I was motivated. I knew my efforts and hard work would bear fruit. And here I am.”
An excellent choreographer and dancer, Ivanna specialises in Bollywood, Latin, hip-hop, salsa, belly dance, and freestyle. She is a national winner of the Latin Dances 2017.
Dancing, she says, just happened to her randomly. “I just remember my parents holding my hands and telling me to move with the music. All I remember is the music touching my soul and that was the start of my journey in dance,” Ivanna adds nostalgically.
Dance is to some a passion or the purest expression of emotion, or simply a hidden language of the soul. Alarmel Valli, an Indian classical dancer, says, “Dance is like wine. It matures with every performance.”
Ivanna says, “I personally find peace in dance. I would suggest others try and find it too. When you are dancing in the moment, when you aren't trying to impress anyone else and you do it just for fun, you enjoy the music. That's when the magic happens. You tend to forget all your troubles, all your sufferings, all your failures, and you just enjoy yourself. That to me is something different.”
Being in a male-dominated world, Ivanna has her qualms, and she does not shy away from expressing them. She says, “I feel women don’t get the support they need and hence a lot of them quit. It’s a case of either you are exceptional or nothing at all. Even good female dancers lack support from their parents and the community, and only those female dancers succeed who have been exceptional, which isn’t the case for males.”
Martha Graham, an American dancer, said, “Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion.” Ivanna agrees with it and says, “I feel technique will somehow come up short against passion as dance is a way of showing what you truly feel. Dance is what makes me feel alive and feel fulfilled.”
She specialises in Latin, and Latin happens to be her favourite style, but she settles on saying, “I feel dance is a spectrum and the more you explore, the more you tend to like it. I’ve been learning various styles over the years, and I have learnt to love them all and dance as a whole.”
Competition either teaches you to be a team player or leaves you losing the battle within. What you need is your focus to be set right. Ivanna states that she was not pressurised by the competition that came her way. Rather, she said, “I was focused solely on my performance. My parents always taught me not to compare myself with others but to compare myself with the version I was yesterday. I only observed other dancers and tried to learn from them, as dance is a constant learning experience, and it’s an art where I feel no matter how much you learn, it’s never enough.”
Riccardo Cocchi and Yulia Zagoruychenko are her favourite dancers. They started to dance together in 2007 and have ever since captured the audience’s attention with their unique Latin style. Not just their technical aptitude but their dynamism has gained them fans all over the world, and one of them is Ivanna.
She says, “Ever since I’ve watched them dance, I’ve been mesmerised. The intricacy and accuracy of their footwork and the complexity of the steps are simply beyond anything I’ve seen before.”
Ivanna does not believe in merely talking. She wants to work hard and instructs young artists who may want to follow her path or want to fashion their own to do the same. “Sometimes when things don’t turn out right doesn’t mean we should quit. It only means that this is an opportunity to come back stronger,” Ivanna remarks powerfully.
(Carlos Luis is a priest belonging to the Society of the Catholic Apostolate (Pallottine) and is currently the mission secretary of the ABVM Province, Bangalore. He comments on literature and films that mirror life.)