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PARUL SHARMA SINGH
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AchievementRavi Rastogi tellsPARUL SHARMA SINGHhow dance opened the doors of fortune for him

In stepRavi Rastogi (centre) with his students
In stepRavi Rastogi (centre) with his students

Once an aimless vagabond wasting away his life on the streets in Bareilly district of Uttar Pradesh, Ravi Rastogi has today danced his way to accomplish the dreams his deceased brother had set for him.

Dancer-choreographer-artiste Ravi's life story is the stuff that our quintessential 1970s Hindi films were made of. With zilch family support — his father dismissed dance as a vice and wanted his sons to join their dwindling jewellery business — and a tough survival struggle in Delhi, Ravi has come a long way today to become the founder-director of Moving Souls, a dance academy in Delhi.

Ravi, who was recently invited to Bhopal for one of his dance workshops, “owes” his life — even his name — to his elder brother, who ran away from home to learn and teach dance in Delhi. Even as he was settling down, he called his younger brother to join him fully knowing his “capabilities as a natural dancer and instructor”. But before he could guide him any further, fate struck a cruel blow and he suddenly died at the young age of 26.

“That incident changed my life. I was completely transformed after my brother's death. I stepped into his (dancing) shoes quite literally, as I took over from where he had left and began teaching his students. I even adopted his name and became Ravi Rastogi from Hari Rastogi. I have the same mobile number that he used till his death in 2002,” says 28-year-old Ravi, who nearly hero-worships his brother.

However, Ravi soon figured out that if he had to strike big in the world of dance, he ought to branch out to other international dance forms rather than restricting himself to Bollywood-style dance.

“I realised that even if it meant sacrificing one meal a day to save up to join reputed dance institutes, I would have to invest in dance. I knew I had to excel in different dance forms to offer variety to my students,” he says, referring to his stints as a student in the Danceworx Performing Arts Academy and Salsa India Dance Academy, where he later joined as an instructor. Ravi's passion led him to pick up Jazz, Salsa, Cha Cha Cha, Merengue, Bachata and Hip Hop.

Apart from choreographing various events likeMTV Lycra AwardsandPonds Love Destinationreality show, Ravi has conducted numerous corporate shows and workshops for top schools and other educational institutions around Delhi and Punjab.

For someone who has himself experienced the terrible lows of life, Ravi believes in lending a helping hand to the underprivileged.

“I want to give back to the society in my own way. Our dance academy ties up with various NGOs to teach them dance and perform for them. My most notable work was with slum children associated with a Chandigarh-based NGO called Theatre Age.”

With his dance academy progressing slowly and steadily, where he has over 50 regular participants aged between four and 40, Ravi today feels he has everything that he had once desired.

“My parents live with me and are extremely proud of me. I got my sister married into a nice family and am educating my brother. I have a good friends' circle and a great clientele. I perform at the most happening places. For someone who never went to college, this is a huge dream come true. I now want Moving Souls to become a world-reputed company.” And this, he says, will be the perfect tribute to his late brother.

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