I was barely 3 when my sister and I began our tryst with dancing. I started off by learning Bharatanatyam under the guidance of Late. Smt. Ashwini Ekbote, who we fondly called Tai. From ages 3-16, our learning continued along with wonderful stage performances that we enjoyed the most. Our Mother was very instrumental in helping strengthen our foundation in dance, as she diligently took us to all our classes, practices, and stage shows. My father, who was all in praise of our dancing, would have us randomly perform at weddings, birthdays, or just at home when friends and family would visit.
At the age of 9, we were also enrolled in a western style dance school under the guidance of our teacher Gowri Karetkar, who we fondly called Gowri Didi. We learned hip hop, ramp walking, Bollywood, contemporary and more! We performed at the Ganesh festival, alongside singers, and at various cultural events. We also auditioned for Boogie Woogie and Kya Masti Kya Dhoom, two famous dance shows airing on TV.
It didn’t end there. We wanted more so we enrolled in Kuchipudi classes and learned for a few months. We also started choreographing for our college team with our classmates and started competing! Our dance team won 1st place consecutively for 2 years in college. During the very same time, I remember watching TV and there was a show, where a teacher was teaching Bollywood dance to Americans. This was in 2007 and I remember telling my mom that one day I too want to do this in America. Never did I imagine it would turn out to be true!
After a few years, I moved to America after my marriage and hadn’t begun working just then. One day, I was invited to a potluck lunch by my amazing neighbors and little did I know that there was a dance party afterward. I started dancing and the kids followed. Everyone was amazed and told me I should start teaching. I laughed and said no I just dance for fun. A few weeks later my brother and sister-in-law visited me and they asked what my plans were. I did not think twice before saying I would like to teach dance and they pushed me to pursue it. I started teaching at home in my apartment bedroom with four little girls. I had no business plan and no experience in teaching, but all I knew was that I loved dance and I loved teaching! If I hadn’t started a dance school I probably would have been a teacher or engineer.
I would go home to home and conduct free demos, lugging a huge laptop bag, and teaching a few kids. Soon the word spread, but my apartment wasn’t enough. I needed to make this more professional and structured; that’s when I reached out to Kiddie and it all worked out great. That’s when BILB Happened! Now BILB is a big home to so many wonderful teachers, students, and their families. I am very blessed and humbled, and couldn’t ask for more!
That being said, I never call BILB my company, it’s OUR company; it's not just one person that made it happen. It's many wonderful people, including my family who stood by my side in everything I took on and made many sacrifices for me.
Looking at the growth of all of my students really makes all the hard work worth it!