BY ABIGAIL CRASTO
Don’t we all love dancing? Choreographed steps, trained or off-beat, we Goans love to shake a leg at our festivities and celebrations. We all are dancers in our own way. But what’s it like to be a professional dancer in Goa?
Since time immemorial, dancing has been deeply rooted in Goan culture. In recent times, it has also taken the form of self-expression, a career path and recreational activity.
Many benefits are associated with dancing. It helps to better coordination, agility and flexibility, improve psychological well-being, strength and more. Enrolling in dance classes can help you socialise and build self-confidence. But dancing can be demanding too, with intense training and rehearsals, stage nerves and being prone to injuries all the time.
So what’s it like to get paid for your passion, and what are some disadvantages of doing something you love? Here are some perspectives from Goan dancers – things no one told you about being a dancer.
DANCE GAVE ME A PURPOSE
Everybody becomes apprehensive about significant decisions like getting a job or choosing a life partner, decisions that are bound to shape the rest of your life. But some things are meant to happen.
Dr Martin D’Costa, CEO of Dance Illusions, was asked to diagnose and treat his patients instead of dancing, but he thought differently. “I find myself healing more people through dance. Dancing mends broken hearts and the positive energy makes one feel more alive,” Dr Martin claims.
Becoming dancers has been the happiest couple decision we have ever made
– Dr Martin D’Costa
Like every Goan, he always loved dancing. As time progressed, he found he had an inclination towards the ballroom dance form which also led him to find his wife.
"Ballroom dancing captured my spirit around the same time my wife Flossy captured my heart. We united as one soul, dancing, learning and finally teaching ballroom and Latin dances to everyone willing to learn,” he recollects.
Chasing your dream despite all the challenges requires perseverance and taking action. Dr Martin found his purpose through dance.
''Becoming dancers has been the happiest couple decision we have ever made, and even now we continue to follow our hearts one step at a time. We have found our true calling,” he adds.
GOA IS MY INSPIRATION
Goa’s scenic landscapes and natural beauty are an attraction to many. From unwinding themselves with a quick Goa trip to having aesthetic film and photo shoots, people find Goa an ideal location. For artists like Impana Kulkarni, the founder-director of Vyomi Arts Centre, Goa inspires creativity.
“As a bharatnatyam dancer and teacher, there is the freedom to experiment with choreographies and presentation in Goa. The natural landscapes charge artistic creativity. With comparatively lesser commotion than in metro cities, there is space to introspect, practice and make mistakes,” she adds.
The journey of creation, movement, discoveries and connections – all make dancing endearing
– Impana Kulkarni
Moreover, in recent times, developmental works are turning Goa into a concrete jungle. Impana is concerned about Goa losing this important facet and the profound impact it will have on dancers like her.
“Goa has a lot to offer to dancers, from experiences and opportunities to much-needed artistic time-outs. Being connected to nature betters your art, eases one’s mind and lets imagination flow. I fervently hope the state's green cover doesn't alter further than it already has!” she adds.
PRESERVING GOAN CULTURE THROUGH DANCE
It’s one thing to realise a passion, but to pursue it as a job, is a completely different thing. Navigating through the hurdles that come along the way can deter you at times, but can also lead up to some of the best experiences.
Goa’s famous dancer Cecille Rodrigues didn’t think she could carve such a beautiful journey in dancing. “No one told me that I can build a dance career in Goa, but I have realised that dance is an important aspect of Goan culture and is thriving in Goa, contributing to the economy and creating job opportunities,” she says.
No one told me that I can build a dance career in Goa, but I have realised that dance is an important aspect of Goan culture and is thriving in Goa
Dancing in Goa may be an unpopular career choice, but it has been something that our ancestors loved doing.
Goan traditional folk dances like dhalo, dekhni, fugdi and kunbi have been always performed during rituals and festivities. Many Western dance styles like bachata, salsa and zumba have also entered the Goan dancing scene.
Cecille finds it important to celebrate and preserve Goa’s rich dance culture. As a founder of Encore Academy of Performing Arts, Goa, Cecille wants to help impart these skill sets and dance knowledge to the next generation.
“Through the Academy, I’m igniting an educational evolution in performing arts by building an ecosystem to boost students' confidence and exhibit their skills,” she adds.
DANCE IS AN EXPENSIVE AFFAIR
Being committed to your passion is not always enough, there's a cost that comes with it. Moreover, a good financial investment is required to pursue dance in Goa.
Bharatanatyam dancer and yoga enthusiast Akhil Sawant considers dance an expensive affair.
Be it costumes, jewellery, stage set-ups, lighting and other accessories to even taking initial classes and training, and participation fees at competitions, all burn a hole in your pocket.
I have great respect for dancers who pursue dancing full-time, especially in Goa where tourism is a dominant sector
"It’s difficult to get authentic costumes stitched as these specialised tailors are far too few. Even the jewellery like the chokers, waist belts, and ghungroos worn at performances are mostly availed from Chennai or Bangalore. They all add up to the cost," he adds.
Dancing is also not the most sought-after career choice and is merely viewed as a hobby in Goa. “I have great respect for dancers who pursue dancing full-time, especially in Goa where tourism is a dominant sector. I work in the media to support my dancing practice but, yes, dancing is worth all the struggle,” Akhil admits.
In the past few years, there has been a gradual realisation that dancing can be more. Akhil, who is currently learning under Shri Parshwanath Upadhye, Shri Adithya P V and Smt Shruti Gopal, is hopeful that with the changing mindset and people being appreciative towards it, better days for dance are on the horizon.