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Marsha Das

My parents were in the USA doing their PHDs when I was born and hence my citizenship is also American. I’ve been staying in India as an OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) cardholder. I enjoy all the rights that an Indian citizen does except for voting. I have my Aadhar, driving license, PAN card, and everything, the only difference is how my passport looks. Even though my citizenship is American I was brought up in a completely desi household. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that dance is my first love. I’d always wanted to dance since childhood, my parents did not stop me from dancing but like any other parent would say they too were of the view, ‘Pehle padhai, Phir dance’. Following just what they said I kept studying, I was a topper for most of my academic life and even in my graduation.

When people were choosing different career paths I sat for my MBA and even got selected but I wanted to give myself a chance and opted for a job so that I could try my hands at dancing. After I started working I enrolled myself in a contemporary dance routine and I realized I was ok at it and I could do better.

Since then, life has been ascending. I’ve been working full time till now, I even switched 3 jobs and at the same time, I’ve been passionately following dancing and traveling. When I say passionately I mean I have done shows, I have taught and taken dance classes in corporates.

Just before the pandemic hit I had started a dance studio called ViaDance Studio in Hyderabad. We had just started getting dancers/students and the lockdown happened causing us to shut down. We did continue online classes for some time but due to the chaos this pandemic created, we were not able to have the classes. Also, as it was a joint venture with some friends working in the IT sector, things didn’t work out because of how distanced we were, geographically during the pandemic. Even online classes seemed difficult as we couldn’t get together and work things out because of the dispersed nature of our work. But in the end, it was a good learning experience, we started something from scratch. The footfall in the first few months was exceptional, the one I hadn’t expected. But then again it was just bad timing and we had to shut down.

After that, I started taking online Zumba classes for the employees of Purple Talk, and the employees there never thought I was an IT employee but a dancer. I would work till 4, then take the Zumba classes from 4 to 5 and again get back to work once the classes were done. I was living like this till January 2021 and had to stop suddenly after a minor shoulder injury. I was asked to stop teaching and dancing for a while.

Few months have passed since then. I am back on my track. Right now I’m taking classes for Malhad studio, Charlotte from 11:30-12:30 night. This is what I have been able to do in dancing, and I feel happy about it. People, the ones like us, who have been to the dance floor, know how an actual dance floor feels. An online class doesn’t give you the experience that an actual class would. It’s not just about the steps or the choreography but it’s about learning after observing something. And taking back that something – the connection with you. But who are we to complain again, because it’s a luxury to have such a learning space for students or teachers in times like these. And this is how it’s going to continue and the earlier we accept it, the better.

2020 was a roller coaster for me but life has been good with work and dancing side by side. I love my job and I do realize that it’s difficult to make a living out of dancing because I’ve seen people, instructors, dancers who are good at their stuff but struggle to make a living out of it. I wouldn’t say it’s unachievable but it sure is difficult.

I’m not very hopeful about restarting my studio yet as people are getting comfortable learning online. To take people back to studio sessions will take a lot of effort from the whole dance community. Because people are getting comfortable taking classes at home and are happy when they don’t have to face other people, to dance in front of them. The only reason people didn’t join dance classes was that they felt they’d be judged. And once they’ve gotten the taste of being in their comfort zone I think it’s going to take a lot of effort from themselves too, to come to actual classes again. Other instructors like me, who have started the offline classes again, are having the footfall is very low. And looking at the trend, people are preferring stuff online.

Since the start of 2021, I’ve been coping up with the new normal, and having a full-time job gives me some sort of stability. Taking that step to fully dive into dancing considering the crisis is something I’ll have to think about shortly.

Total Work Experience : 7 Years (Infosys, Oracle, Bank Of America)

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