Dance Is the Language of My Soul - Suhani Shrotriya

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1. Tell us more about your background and journey.

My name is Suhani Shrotriya. I'm from Uttar Pradesh. I'm a Chemical engineer who is passionate about dancing. I'm a professional Kathak dancer but I love trying different dance forms. In my school days, I completed a 5 years Kathak course but after 9th I couldn’t continue further because of my studies.

After 3 years before my college freshers everybody was preparing something for their performance and I decided to do a semi-classical dance. I was going to perform on stage after 3 years that too a solo performance, I still remember being afraid, my heart beating faster but as I went on stage just in few seconds all my fears vanished.

The happiness I got from seeing the crowd cheering can’t be expressed in words that is when I realized this is what I’m meant to do. After that in every single event of University, I was asked to perform solo kathak pieces. I choreographed all my performances and I loved trying different styles so I used to record small clips and share them with my friends.

After this, many people motivated me to start my youtube channel. I was apprehensive but I realized this might be a great way to stay connected with dance so I uploaded a random video recorded in my small hostel room. Now it has been 2 years, when I look back I realize that that was one of the best decisions of my life.

Now I have recorded more than 50 videos. When I moved to Bangalore for my job I really wanted to stay connected with dancing and didn’t want to make the mistake which I had made earlier. And as we know where there is a will there is a way. Moving to a different city I didn’t have many resources but only my dedication towards dancing.

To continue this further, I had to learn new skills as well like videography and editing to develop my channel. In this pandemic, I have been living alone for the past 4 months and dance has been my companion. There is not even a single day when I don’t dance. When I look back I want to ask myself “Suhani how did you survive those years without dancing?”

2. When did you first decide you wanted to pursue dancing and how did you start?

My mom tells me that when I was a child I was very expressive in portraying myself through dance and she used to say “she will definitely become a dancer”. Since childhood, my parents have motivated me to participate in various activities.

There’s very little that I haven’t tried - dancing, singing, acting, art and craft, public speaking, sketching and the list goes long. And when I was 4 years old I started going to Bharatanatyam class but in a few months our school dance teacher introduced us to Kathak and I was drawn to Kathak more than Bharatnatyam. I realized Kathak is God’s gift to me.

After realizing this I left the Bharatanatyam class and started training in Kathak. I like to express myself through dancing. When I’m dancing I become the happiest person on this planet. I did discontinue for three years but because of my dedication, I have my own youtube channel. This may sound funny but my aim is to be that old grandma who slays all the dance steps, I never ever want to stop dancing now!

3. Who is your favourite dancer and why?

For all the classical dance forms, my favourite dancer is my Guruji, Mr.Timir Dutta. He taught me, not only kathak but so many other classical forms too. He made me realize the importance of expressions in any dance form and I can say that it is one of my strengths now.

He used to motivate me daily to keep practising, he had faith in me and my talent. When I used to watch him doing steps flawlessly, all I wanted was to dance like him. Many people ask me how my wrist movements are so smooth and I laugh and tell them that it’s because of my teacher.

He used to tell me to practice wrist movements in free time and the whole day while studying while watching TV, I used to practice these movements just to get that grace. I don’t meet him that often now but I share all my performances with him and he keeps motivating me as always.

For hip hop, Matt Steffanina is my favourite dancer. I have never met him but I have learnt hip hop from his dance videos. His choreographies are amazing and they help me in growing as a dancer. There was a time when I thought hip hop is not my cup of tea because our steps should be crisp for hip hop which is the exact opposite to my forte.

But passion and dedication make everything possible and I have gained so much confidence in hip hop also. I feel like I improve each time and that's all I want.

4. Can you throw some light on opportunities one gets as a dancer?

As a dancer, one gets many opportunities. There are so many people out there who want to learn dancing, who just want to relax, and have a fun day at the dance class.

You can become a dance teacher and if you are a professionally trained classical dancer, people would love to learn any classical dance forms as you may find many western dancers but only a few classical dancers. Nowadays social media gives us a platform to show our talents. One can start their own youtube channel and spread some magic.

Everyone loves to show their moves and grooves on sangeet and engagement performances. A dancer can be a wedding choreographer and help people prepare some fun performances. As you gain more experience a dancer you may also get an opportunity to be a judge in various dance competitions.

5. Is format training required or can one train themselves purely on the basis of talent?

I feel, one can definitely train themselves on the basis of talent, but formal training gives a direction. You might be a good dancer but after formal training, you may become exceptional. As I have training in Kathak, my foundation is strong, that’s why I’m able to choreograph, and dance confidently, even though I left dance classes 7 years back.

I can give my own example: I keep learning different dance forms like hip hop, waacking, contemporary, bhangra, etc, and I always feel that I can do better if someone can teach me the basics and keep a check on me. So nobody can stop you from learning but if you can then get formal training.

6. What piece of advice would you like to give to future and aspiring artists?

If dancing brings a smile on your face, then never ever give up. You may not be great today, but if you are dedicated, wonders can happen. Be patient and keep practising. Everyone starts at zero. If you give up today, you’ll never know what you can achieve.

Don’t do it for anybody else but for yourself, do it because you know it gives you happiness. Dance is the language of my soul and if it is yours too, welcome to this beautiful world!

7. Which is your favourite book and why?

Frankly speaking, I’m not fond of reading as such, but a few months back, I read The Alchemist, and I learnt that everything happens for a reason, and if you are dedicated, and continue your hard work, you’ll definitely get what you deserve.

Interview by - Sonam

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