I started dancing when I was 5 years old. My mom used to be a dancer so she would encourage me to dance for fun and would teach me some classical steps. I grew up watching Bollywood movies and listening to the music, so that made me love it even more.
As I grew older, I started to take Kathak dance classes. Just five girls were taking the class and it was in one of their basements. We had a few performances where we combined a little Bollywood and more classical steps.
When I was 10 years old, I started to take Bollywood/kathak classes at Arya Dance Academy. They gave me the opportunity to dance at big events, like Salim Suleiman’s concert, where we were backup dancers. When I got to high school, I stopped going to the classes because I didn't have a lot of free time. After classes, I would come home and dance to all the latest songs in my basement. Dancing was my exercise because it was way more fun than going to the gym or running.
Throughout my childhood and even now, I perform at family reunions and functions with my cousins. When I’m with one of my cousins, we both choreograph a song so we can perform it at the next big family gathering.
Dancing was also a way for me to keep in touch with my culture. As I was looking for colleges, one thing I was looking for was if they had a Bollywood dance team. Because Towson University is a small institution, I was afraid they wouldn’t have one. When I found that they did have a team called Chalak, I reached out to their captain and I was excited to join.
At first, I was nervous but I’m glad I joined because it helped me relax and do something I love. Being on the team for 2 years now and being captain now has allowed me to try new things and learn more types of dance.
Because of Chalak, Pavani contacted us about teaching kids to dance in the Towson area. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to be an instructor, but I thought it would be a good experience, plus I love kids. Teaching both kids and adults has been a fun experience and I enjoy sharing my love for dance with them. I’m so glad I took this opportunity to be a part of BILB and I can’t wait to see what more memories I make!