Stars are born
On International Dance Day, we talk to YouTube dance sensations of India, who have created a strong digital footprint and are successfully marching ahead
Dance has emerged as one of the fastest growing segments on YouTube. Be it for a wedding, fitness or hobby, more and more people are watching YouTube dance videos and helping create YouTube stars with millions of views and fans across the globe. On International Dance Day (April 29), we talk to some of the dance sensations to know how the digital platform has helped them create a strong foothold.
Pushing the limits
Founded by Tejas Dhoke and Ishpreet Dang in Nashik, DanceFit Live started off as a dance class that would cater to people’s hobbies and also help them stay fit. “But later, we started making videos of our students not just to upload them on social media but to give them a confidence boost,” says Dhoke.
DanceFit Live was born with a mission to provide dancers with artistic techniques that fosters excellence in all dance forms, and now has a whopping 2.6M subscribers on its YouTube channel.
Their videos are not only about the ones who choreograph them. “We try to accommodate each and every student in the videos. Some are shy, some have never faced the camera, but dance shouldn’t make you feel anxious, it should be fun. So with a lot of training, practice and patience we film the videos that are usually one-take shots, and the way people dance makes it evident that they are happy,” he says.
DanceFit Live is all about pushing the limits. “Everyone is not a trained dancer, some people come to us because it is their hobby, we just help them from scratch in such a way that they too can give back to the dancing community either by supporting it or by teaching dance to more people,” says Dhoke.
Every dancer is unique. “We have our own unique style and we enjoy what we are doing, so if at all there is any competition it is with ourselves not others,” says he adding that they need to keep pushing themselves so that more people notice them. “Since we want dance to reach more people and places, we are now releasing tutorial videos so that everyone has a fair chance to learn what they like,” he adds.
Sonali Bhadauria of LiveToDance with Sonali, who enjoys the support of 1.7M subscribers, is a self-taught dancer and a well-known YouTuber. Interestingly, she says she was never supposed to be a dancer.
Bhadauria, who is now a full-time dancer, says that coming from a middle class background, she had two career choices — doctor or engineer. She ended up being a software engineer at Infosys. However, since a young age she loved dancing.
“I kept learning dance from international YouTube artists like Matt Steffanina and Willdabeast and did my own little things,” says she adding that even though she was aware of the digital platform, she lacked confidence to upload any of the videos that she recorded because she didn’t know how people would react.
But with a little bit of push she started LiveToDance to choreograph dances for weddings and teach students. “One day I just thought of uploading the videos that I had recorded for my own benefit on my YouTube channel and surprisingly, I got great response from the audience and that was when I started taking YouTube seriously and began my journey as a YouTube creator.”
Bhadauria says that she draws a lot of inspiration from the West. “But Bollywood is in my blood, so I decided to merge the two and started teaching and practising BollyHop which is following a Western style on an Indian track,” she says.
The online platform has given her an opportunity to showcase her work and get recognised by the world. Moreover, it is just so satisfying when students pick up her style of dance and give her a positive feedback.
Initially, it was just for fun, but a little push from the audience and her students propelled her to pursue dance as a full-time career.
Live your dream
Sonal Devraj and Nicole Concessao, the co-founders of Team Naach, who enjoy the support of 2M subscribers, started their dance class in Mumbai. “It all started in 2015 when we wanted to reach more people, so to promote our dance class we started recording our dance videos and uploaded them online. Little did we know that it would become a full-fledged career for us,” says Concessao.
They began with pure choreography content which would be easy for people to follow and learn dance from any corner of the world. “India is a country that is blessed with a lot of dance styles, because of which we have something new every now and then,” says Concessao adding that what makes them different from others is the fact that even with commercial styles, they focus on regional styles.
“Regional music and folk dance is something that we are trying to take to the people because it not only gives us an exposure but also gives the dance form its due credit,” she says adding that the vision of Team Naach is to put out varied styles in the world and bring in a sense of diversity.
Concessao says that a lot of people enjoy dance as a hobby, but with the rise of social media they have realised that digital careers are possible and also, the way forward. “Social media gave us the confidence to dream big and taught us nothing is impossible. If you are determined in life, you can achieve a lot. We want to inspire a lot of people to dream big and live their dreams,” Concessao concludes.
Dance is my Identity
Ritu Gupta, like many Indians, had a natural flair for dancing. She choreographed for get-togethers and other celebratory occasions for family and friends and even those in and around her neighbourhood because she genuinely liked and enjoyed dancing.
“As far as I believe, dance is something that comes very naturally to me, so I never thought that it would take me places when I first started uploading my dance videos online — it just happened on a random day and what followed was sheer happiness,” says Ritu Gupta of Ritu’s Dance Studio, who has a fan following of 1M subscribers.
She says that back in the day when YouTube was just a new thing in the market, she too, like many others, wanted to explore it. “Since it was new I did not know much about it, but I anyway made a profile and started uploading my dance videos online just for fun. I never imagined that I would have an audience,” says Gupta adding that she never wanted to be a YouTuber because she didn’t even know what the term meant back then.
“But as I got a hang of it I started uploading more videos and I made sure whatever I uploaded was not only pleasing to watch but also doable by anyone who wanted to learn dance or merely have fun,” she says.
Creating digital dance content has given her an identity. “I’m not saying that I am the best dancer online, but I know that I give my best every time I upload something — my vision is to create the best of dance in me so that it gives confidence to many other middle-aged women like me to do what they want,” she says adding that age should not stop you from exploring something.
“There always is a new day and you could do something new and create a new identity altogether, which is exactly what I did through dance,” she says.
When she sees people reacting to her posts and sending in their videos recreating her dance, she feels a lot of pride in what she does and hopes to do even better in the future to reach more and more people and take dance to them.
“Everybody is born with rhythm, you just need to find it,” she says.