Meet some dancers from India’s growing street dance community
© Velu Kumar
With the street dance culture in India becoming prominent overtime, we take a closer look at profiles of dancers who have been making their mark in each of their individual dance styles.
Street dance culture in India has grown massively over the last few years with major events and more dancers in the scene.
We have also had Indian dancers participate in and win reputed international dance competitions.
Here’s a look at some dancers from different styles who are leading the way.
- Dance styles: Waacking and Kathak
- City: Mumbai
“I started dancing when I was three years old. My grandmother put me in a dance school; that's how it started,” states Anasua about her beginnings in dance. She has trained in Katahk for 13 years and started waacking in 2012.
She auditioned for the TV show 'Bharat ki Shaan - Rum Jhum' and shifted to Mumbai in 2013 when she was selected to appear on the show. Unfortunately, she was eliminated before the finale, but in her own words, “gave the other contestants pretty tough competition in the classical dance category.”
After that, Anasua got a call from ‘India's Got Talent Season 5’ saying she was being put through directly to the Mega Audition. The popularity gained from the appearance opened a lot of doors for her. She was part of the cast for youth fictional dance show ‘Dil Dosti Dance’ on Channel V; she played the role of Huma.
Today, Anasua is part of the House of Suraj dance crew and very well-known in the India’s dance community.
- Dance styles: Popping and Locking
- City: Chennai
Nimble was inspired to dance after watching Michael Jackson’s music video for the song ‘Billie Jean’ as a child. “I started trying out the moonwalk and also observing all of MJ’s moves, replicating them in the best way I knew to. I had no idea that the style he was doing was popping and locking. Over time, people started calling me ‘Nirmal Jackson’ whenever they saw me perform. However, my style wasn’t perfect yet as I hadn’t picked up jazz and tap dancing – the other styles MJ was well-versed in,” he says.
He started posting his dance videos on Facebook and YouTube, and got noticed by MJ’s choreographer who invited him to Los Angeles.
Dance legend Flattop also saw Nimble’s videos on Facebook and told him to create his own identity. “He was the one who named me ‘Nimble Funk’ as he felt that I had my own style and my own thing going. We are still in touch and he tells me how proud he is of my achievements.”
Inspired by crews such as Electric Boogaloos, he created the event ‘Funk-In-India’ and invited Popin’ Pete of Electric Boogaloos to visit India. He also started wearing costumes that were authentic to the dance style as a way of showing respect to the OGs of the culture; he now has a huge collection of hats, hush puppies and Oxford shoes.
He achieved mainstream fame when he danced alongside Madhuri Dixit on the TV show ‘Dance Deewane’. The publicity gave him a platform in wider dance circles in Mumbai and Delhi, allowing him to successfully teach dance and conduct workshops, and also go on to represent India in international championships like World Of Dance.
- Dance styles: Hip-hop, House and Waacking
- City: Ahmedabad
Sri Lakshmi started dancing in her childhood but only realized her potential for choreography when she was in college. While pursuing an engineering degree at Nirma College in Ahmedabad, she noticed that a lot of dance events were geared towards solo performances; there were no dance crews. “I wasn’t enjoying my time in college. I wasn’t having any fun and was feeling purposeless. It gave me the incentive to form my own dance crew and over time, we started practicing together and participating in college events.”
The crew started gaining popularity in the college – they even did a flash mob on campus. The successful flash mob accelerated their popularity and encouraged them to try events outside campus. “Our focus as a crew shifted from the college to the city and we started hosting workshops as well,” she states.
Things changed for her when she went to Urban Dance Camp and met dancers from all over the country, and then attended Camp Kundu. “I met Kundu, one of the pioneers of the hip-hop scene in the country. This is an important landmark in my career as he took me under his wing and got me to become a part of the Kundu House Project. I started freestyling a lot and eventually also got introduced to the battle scene.”
Dance battles had a huge influence on her career as a dancer. “Being a part of battles changed the way I dance,” she explains. “It refined a lot of aspects of my dance and also gave me the confidence that was necessary.”
Sri Lakshmi and her crew Paranoid Dance Crew have done a lot of work in shaping the street dance scene of Ahmedabad. They established the studio and dance school, Misbehaving Beautifully. With her two crews, Sri Lakshmi has travelled all over the country to express her art and meet with other dancers.
- Dance style: Hip-hop
- City: Bengaluru
Velu’s journey in dance started at the age of four when he danced to the popular Bollywood song ‘Urvashi Urvashi’ to pacify his crying baby brother. He continued dancing through school and college events.
His mainstream breakthrough came when he appeared on Tamil reality show ‘Who Is The Next Prabhudeva?’ where he featured in the top-10. “The directors came and told me that I was a really good dancer and that my hip-hop style was nice. That is when I realized that I was actually doing hip-hop!” he exclaims. “Until then, I was randomly dancing as we didn’t have access to YouTube or anything of the sort.”
That exchange started Velu’s journey as a professional dancer. He started looking for hip-hop dance classes and eventually joined ‘Hip-Hop India Dance Company’ which was run by Sritheren Pillai and taught the authentic, raw style of hip-hop. From here on, Velu was now part of India’s hip-hop community.
After completing his Bachelor’s in Commerce degree, he took up a professional job and sidelined his dancing ambitions. But when he got through the auditions to be on the TV show ‘Bindass Naach’, his passion for dance was rejuvenated and he became part of the crew Desi Hoppers. The crew was selected to participate in the World Of Dance finals in the United States, but Velu missed out. “Unfortunately, I couldn’t go for the finals as I didn’t get my visa on time. I also became a part of the Graffiti Crew and Drums Of Hip-Hop and have had the opportunity to represent the country internationally in various battles.”
- Dance styles: Dancehall and Afro
- City: Bengaluru
Divya started learning Bharatnatyam when she was six years old and was formally trained in it for 10 years. She also dabbled in ‘western dance’ from films and music videos. But it was not until 2009, when she was introduced to street dance while in the second year of her engineering degree. “My friend, who was a fellow dancer, introduced me to her teacher who was starting his own dance company and was into hip-hop and street style. This was the first time I saw a completely new style of dancing,” she recalls.
Eventually, Divya started studying hip-hop as a dance style. She explored the movements and the music, and started taking classes to also learn popping and breaking.
In 2014 she attended events across the country and slowly also started learning wacking, house, afro and dancehall. “By the end of it, I was dancing six styles at the same time,” she states. Realizing she needed to take a call on which style to specialize it, she picked dancehall. “I had come across dancehall in school when Sean Paul’s song ‘Temperature’ had become popular. I was aware of both the music and dance form.” Over time, Divya perfected dancehall, afro and waacking. In 2014, she quit her job to dance on a full-time basis, dedicating herself to dancehall and afro. She is a member of the all-girl afrobeat dance crew Afrontal.