The proliferation of dance academies can be attributed to the deluge of dance reality shows in India
The Mangal Bazaar Chowk in Indirapuram wears a relatively lazy look. The remnants of the frenetic Tuesday market can still be seen. The rickshawallahs and shared autos waiting for passengers eat into more than half of the road leaving just enough space for one car to pass. I go past the momowallah, the kathi kabab corner, a chemist’s shop to find the staircase leading up to Dubstep Dance Academy that teaches “Hip-Hop, Locking/Popping, Contemporary, Tutting, Salsa, Bollywood, Krumping, Turfing” to anyone and everyone interested. With kids’ summer vacations having just got over, things are a little relaxed and so is Vishwa Tomar, the young owner of the academy he started three and a half years back.
Running parallel to the boom in dance reality shows in India is a spurt in dance academies during the last four years or so, and Dubstep is only one such.
“When we started our centre in Rohini six years back, we were the only ones around and now within a radius of three kilometres, there are about 6-7 dance schools,” says Atul Jindal of Big Dance Centre (Rohini and Yusuf Sarai), an old name in the industry. Atul along with his partner Karan Kumar have choreographed songs for several Hindi films (like Ragini MMS 2, Bhoothnath Returns), ads and stars on world tours. “What has happened due to the growth of these reality shows is the increase in respect and acceptance for dance. When I decided to establish this dance centre in 2007, my parents didn’t believe me. They asked me if I would be able to survive,” recalls Jindal.
At Dubstep, Vishwa says, it is not uncommon to receive anxious parents who come with the sole request to help their child appear on TV. “Even just once will do but they want it with all their heart. Out of 100 per cent, 90 per cent of the people come to us with such aspirations. But the fact is that out of these 90 per cent, 50 per cent are below average with almost no talent. And our growth can be attributed to such ambitious parents. We make profits, but Bollywood is the ultimate dream for me and this is a stepping stone,” says Vishwa, who runs academies in Noida and Lucknow and wants to expand further. Those below 12 are charged Rs.1000, whereas 12 and above pay Rs.1500 per month to learn any dance form.
Early this year Dubstep churned out a star in Rahul Rajput who made it to the quarter finals of Dance India Dance. “It was a dream to appear on TV and unexpectedly I went all the way to Dance India Dance’s quarter finals. Now I want to go ahead and pursue the desire of becoming a dance professional,” says Rahul, a ninth grade student specialising in Popping (a street dance form originally from California) at Dubstep.
Making a rough estimate, Atul puts the number of dance academies at 1000 in addition to temporary summer hobby classes and workshops. “But unfortunately the quantity hasn’t kept pace with quality. Untrained teachers, low quality infrastructure and no thrust on knowledge has deeply affected it. How many of such academies can afford a sponge floor which costs about Rs.5 lakh? If you dance on concrete floor for two years it will permanently damage your knee. How many of them care to have proper water facilities? How many have good medical facilities to ensure minimum damage to the fragile bodies of small kids? In any case I am of the view that kids below 18 should be barred from participating in any of these dance reality shows. They should learn and be exposed to knowledge about dance but not take part in such shows,” says Atul, who was assistant choreographer in one of the seasons of Dance India Dance.