Group Dance happened and GD sey toh phir pyaar hogaya tha! It was our first stage performance, and the stage vibes just hit differently. The stage just had my heart. We won that GD, GD’19! After GD came IDP, another dance event, and this is the time when freshers are properly grilled during their dance practices. Also, let me tell you, We are in the middle of the second semester here and have done no part of the academics seriously. Grilled heavily the IDP throughout the rest of the semester, There came my SGPA, just on the verge of survival which made my CGPA somewhere around 7. But the best thing that happened to me with IDP was meeting my girlfriend, as she was also a part of my IDP team.
After this starts my second year, and that's when comes the time for RDV prep and practices of Duo, the dance event. Duo is the very first chance where we get to create our own dance sequences AKA getting the center. Duo is like a responsibility in its own sense as you also need to teach the sequence you make to the rest of the team and it also works as a piece that motivates us further to prepare for RDV. As soon as Duo ended, every one of us got started with our practices for RDV, and it's all grind time. Also, many people don’t realize that it is a very regular routine to sleep at 7 am and wake up at 8 am for classes. You might wonder when we are sleeping? - Well, we slept in our classes. I slept in my classes and if we had a break for a couple of hours amid classes, I would rest in the center area of LHC. Like you just have to do it; you can’t avoid it. And no one really bothers as everyone knows that if a person appears for a morning class all sweaty, they HAVE just returned from their dance practices. Though it makes me happy I didn’t have to do it for the past two years as academics had shifted online and we could watch lectures at our comfortable timings.
Anyways, getting back to RDV. I need to say RDV is a massive deal for us as the stage of RDV provides us with a big audience, and dancers from DDC come to perform on the stage. These performances are held in OAT as OAT has a big stage and can contain a large audience. Moreover, when OAT is all decorated with the lights, it just vibes great! Now there was a huge BT that happened at our first RDV performance. When we were super close to the day of our performance, the venue of our performance was suddenly changed from OAT to the Football ground. It rained heavily during that RDV, and the entire stage had been shattered by it. The next day we were all worried and even uncertain about the happenings of our performance. The next day the stage was rebuilt, but still, due to some sudden change of plans, we performed at a different venue and NOT the main stage. I remember our seniors crying a couple of hours prior to the performance for not being able to perform on the main stage. We were so used to seeing them being strict with us that seeing them cry was heart-wrenching. At this time, Naveen sir brought everyone together and prepared our minds to give our best, no matter which stage we be performing at. I consider him a great leader and this incident just made us all respect him even more. I would also say that this incident was a huge team bonding moment for all of us as we all held onto each other and gave our performance. At LHC, though in front of a small audience, We ended up winning that year!
It was after many years that we won that year, and we are super proud of that! Now when I think of it I remember the days we practiced together more vividly than the day of the performance, and I am going to cherish those memories for the rest of my life. For the next 1.5 - 2 months, we got a lot of time to study for our majors, which was very fortunate, yet many of us were immensely filled with enthusiasm for dancing by this time that we started making and posting dance reels all over Instagram. Now I can say that we had a so-called online fest even before COVID happened, as you could see dance reels popping up all over on Instagram!
Later, Majors happened, and results were out in the winter break, and this was the time when everything effed up. I check my e-acads just to know that I haven’t been able to clear three of my courses that semester! I remember I was in the line to collect my travel tickets when I checked that, and my eyes were all teared up to realize how badly I messed up my acads. It was the first time in my life that I had performed this worse academically, and that kind of broke me. My entire December went by with me worrying over my acads. Here I was not worried about what had already been done, but I was scared of the same thing happening repeatedly. This was when the dance was at its peak in my college life, and I just couldn’t leave it. Moreover, the upcoming sem was now VD sem. Besides, If I mess up one more course and my degree would have been extended. I was in a really stressed-up situation there. My girlfriend really supported me during this time and encouraged me to continue dancing as I wanted to go for it. I ended up continuing dancing and I would definitely say that it was the right decision taken!
Then happened VD auditions and I appeared for them. You know, it is not like you’re a great dancer so you appear for the audition, I have realized that the people who are brave enough to put in all they have into dance practices, ones who understand how hard they are gonna be grilled and still want to show up for it finally appear for them! V-Defyn was founded in 2010 and just in a span of 4-5 years it became one of the top dance crews known to Delhi. I don’t think there is any other club in our institute that can say that they are the best in what they do in the entire Delhi, but the dance club surely says that with pride! It is majorly because of how the hard and hectic dance culture has been built up in the institute. Also, the way dancing events are structured over the course of a college student’s life at IIT, just feels like it is a handcrafted plan for turning a willing person into a good or rather a great dancer. Dance is more of an attitude, the attitude to be willing to strive and thrive. Even with the current team, I never feel if I am making them work too hard or too less. It’s like no matter how much I make them work I know they will JUST DO IT!
Coming back to my VD auditions, I do get in VD, and this entire sem from Jan’20 to April’20 we are having all the events where we go and perform. But this time I was very careful with my academics as well, as I knew if I miss one class I am going to miss the rest as well. I made conscious efforts wherever I could to manage my academics all over this semester and stay in touch with my batchmates.
Though here now we were not winning the lots of events that we were participating in. In 2014-15 when V-Defyn was at its peak, it had brought some creative concepts to dancing that Delhi Dance Circuit was new to and everyone was fascinated by them but just later these years the dance crew realized that they are creative but the actual technical stuff that is involved in dancing is lacking throughout and there began a downfall of V-Defyn as the dance culture at DDC shifted more towards technical dancing. Our seniors were under high pressure as we were attending so many events but winning none. Even we all juniors were dejected and felt low about the happenings but yet again, we used to go to Naveen Sir and he used to bring us all together and used to raise our spirits. Now even Naveen Sir had gone through the phase we all were going through and I’d rather say he had been in the worse ones. We have heard stories from him when he said he used to be working hard so much so that he wouldn’t even get time to think about something negative happening.
So with all that on, suddenly COVID happens and now every one of us has to return home. Here dance came on a pause but with the online semester, we were able to give enough time to acads at our comfortable timing which helped me improve my grades. Even our majors happened after summers that year and just after that started our fifth semester in online mode. I even started journaling around this time and some art as well. Here it had been long since we all VD people had danced together and we sort of had lost that constant contact we had in offline mode. Gradually, we started getting in touch and a few of us onboarded around the month of October 2020 amid the fifth semester. It was also announced around that time that GD would happen online, and from then on lots of dance events happened online where we all started recording ourselves dancing from different locations and then video editors would come in to help us out bring all those videos together. I remember we had prepared a sequence overnight, it was three of us - Me, Chiraag, and Naveen Sir. You already Naveen Sir by now and Chiraag is a very dear friend of mine from Girnar. We posted the sequence and this worked as an encouragement for many to get back to dancing no matter if it is online or offline. The sequence ‘Naina da kya kasoor’ sequence was made around this time itself.
Eventually, some more dance people onboarded and we started dancing together. We even had given our majors offline at that time. For the next 3-4 months we practiced intensely for RDV which kept on being postponed owing to the circumstances at that time though but we tried out something super new during this time and it was Freestyling! This worked as a transition period for all of us. What we did prior was creative concepts, saw moves, and tried to improvise them further but now we started working on the core technicalities of dancing. Naveen sir played a very key role in creating this change of culture within as he knew that they couldn’t bring out the change in this way in their batch but they wanted to make sure that we are aware of the basics by incorporating the freestyling concept in our practices. I can also say that I started exploring dancing in a completely new way from then cause now I was incorporating the technical stuff into my dance moves. After that, Me and Tanishq, A very good friend of mine and an amazing dancer himself, started attending professional dance workshops together to build our skills further. Somewhere around the time, the covid cases were again on high rise and more than three people were forbidden from gathering together on campus. Not to mention our dance team was more than ten members. So, we started to go to the deer park early morning around 5 am to practice our dance sequences. Now we had decided to have the shoot day on one of the Saturdays and just that day weekend curfew was announced in Delhi and we were not able to submit our entry for RDV’21. Though one thing that did happen by the end of our fourth year was that we all had figured out our personal dance styles. Moreover, by this time the team had become our family!
In April’21 I headed home as we had yet another lockdown and I started looking out for internship opportunities. One of my seniors had given me the offer to work at Frontrow, a startup and I gladly accepted it. The startup had a fairly new vertical which I became a part of and was a part of a team that worked on the stuff within from scratch. It has been an amazing experience working with them as it involved many creative fields and my knowledge of dancing did help me a lot there. I even ended up receiving a PPO there. The work went on for all of 2021 and I am still a part of Frontrow.
Now, things slowly started shifting back to normalcy, students started onboarding around August’21 and my fourth year started. A major part of my fourth year till now has been trying to teach all the new dance enthusiasts at the institute what we had learned so far in dancing, working in the transition of shifting stuff from online to offline back and more. We meet almost on a weekly basis to work on establishing a good dance system again and how to make it better in ways wherever possible.
And here we are right now where I am at the end of my four-year journey at IITD. I have devoted my major part of college life to dancing and now dancing has become a part of me. Even now when I listen to music I think of what step or move could go along with it. When I walk on the streets, beats play at the back of my mind and I try to freestyle on them. I know that I messed up my academics from time to time but I am sure that I would have not performed that great in them even if I wasn’t into dancing. I am proud of all the decisions I have made over the course of these four years and glad about meeting some people who are now my family for the rest of my life. It has been a great ride and I am looking forward to what the future holds for me.
Interviewed by: Yamini Vijay Khajekar