‘It's a difficult choice', says Bollywood choreographer Sandip Soparrkar on his choice of dance for a profession and his role as an adoptive father.
Sandip Soparrkar, Bollywood's ballroom dance king, has accomplished what no Indian dancer has managed to before. He has put an Indian stamp on Latin-American dancing. In this interview Sandip opens up about his passion for the art, his dance academy and his most precious possession, his adopted son Arjun.
From hotel management student to the most sought after dance guru...
When that bend in the road appeared, I steered towards hotel management since, you know, it was ‘the right thing to do'. Ever since I can recall, dancing has been a part of my life, my childhood was dotted with dance competitions; most of the cups for my mantelpiece are mine. So, despite all that gruelling studying, when dance knocked on the door, I just went along with the tide because I was happiest on the dance floor; that was enough reason. I truly believe that choosing an occupation you love makes your professional run (3/4th of your life!) more interesting rather than chasing a line of work you ‘just have to do'.
The dance academy?
Dancing in India is still not considered a serious career option. And a man who wants to dance for a livelihood? Even today, it's a difficult choice. I keep saying this, if you want to dance, just do it. Money is definitely an aspect, but do it for the love of dance rather than just the bucks. First, find out if you're any good; once you know you have a foothold, the rest will come along with hard work. That was my primary thought behind the Sandip Soparrkar Ballroom Studio. It's a space for anybody wanting to try their feet at Latin American dancing. The studio has a wide choice: Rumba, Samba, Cha-Cha, Jive, Pasodoble, Waltz, Foxtrot, Quick Step and Tango. For anyone with an inclination towards the moves, my mantra is: make dance your life rather than just one part.
Mumbai's first adoptive father
Adoption wasn't a spur-of-the-moment decision for me. I come from a family with a long history of adoption. Many of my cousins, aunts and others have adopted children over the years, which just reaffirmed my belief in the process. Being a single man, it was certainly tougher for me than it would have been for a woman due to the preconceived attitude of whether men can make good nurturers. Considering I wasn't married then, the administrative process tested my patience to the hilt. But I stood my ground because, according to me, as long as you're financially independent and mentally ready for the responsibility, gender should not matter. In any case, once the authorities complete the background check, a home is better than an orphanage, right? It took a four-year wait, but the moment I held my little Arjun, I became a father in a matter of one minute. Also I'm extremely proud of being Mumbai city's first adoptive father because, in my own way, I opened a way for other adoptive males. Subsequently six babies got new homes.
Life after Arjun
My life has completely changed after Arjun entered; all for the better. I'm accustomed to doing things differently so the baby came first and the marital knot after! But Jesse is a wonderful partner and I couldn't have asked for a better mother for Arjun. Both of us have transformed into responsible parents wanting to run home to our little one; we are typical gushy parents. We'd rather be home playing/bathing/cooing than anywhere else.
The one part about adoptive children that demands delicate attention is that decision of whether to inform the child about the adoption. I feel Arjun will have certain questions when he grows older, which we will try and answer as tactfully without keeping him in the dark. For now he's got Jesse and me and two sets of families that dote on him. So hopefully the three of us can find our version of a happy family.