Parth Bhatia, President of Western Core Team, Abhinaya



Abhinaya, the dance society of Ashoka University, has been the face of Ashoka’s dance culture for many years now. Numerous nimble-footed and hardworking dancers have led the society and helped it grow into what it is today. For the current session, its Western Core Team is led by Parth Bhatia. A second year undergraduate, Parth joined the dance team in September 2017 and has stuck with it through multiple events, both at the inter-collegiate and on-campus levels. In an insightful conversation, Parth opens up about his life as a dancer, his experience as president of the Western Core team and his plans for dance in his future at Ashoka and beyond.

SS: What is the first memory you have of you dancing?

PB: [taking a while to recollect] I think it was the time that my mother brought me to my first ever dance class with the Shiamak Davar Dance Institute. I was only six years old, excited and so very intimidated too.  


SS: What are your favorite dance forms? Which ones are you the best at?

PB: I love hip-hop and everything that falls under that; whacking, b-boying and the likes. I am also fond of the style of dancing that I learned at the institute, or “Shiamak style” as it is called. I enjoy jazz too. I would say that I am good at the Shiamak style, but I can also freestyle well in hip hop.


SS: Who have been your guides and support through your journey?

PB: My mother has been very supportive. During eleventh grade, my teachers wanted me to quit dancing to focus on my academics. But my mom was against that. She allowed me to train and perform onstage at shows, even during my final year at school. She did not care about what other people had to say. Along with her, there were also some teachers in school who were pretty understanding and let me go off to dance during school hours.

My instructors at the Shiamak institute, of course, have taught me and helped me hone myself to what I am today. Some of my friends from the dance classes have also been influential. My friend Sandhya, especially, has been my source of constructive criticism. She continues to dance with me on every occasion we get when I’m back home. Over the past year, if I have been able to put any thought into my dance and achieve any improvement in my style, it has been because of her.

The dance crew: Kundu house project is also a set of people I should be thankful to. Attending their classes has allowed me to get into the depth of hip-hop. In the beginning, I only knew surface-level information about the dance style. They, however, taught me that hip-hop is not only dance; it’s a culture with a history.


SS: Why has kept you dancing through all these years? What drives you?

PB: I’ve actually never thought about ‘why,’ until you asked me right now! I believe it’s because I love the stage. I love putting up performances for people. That's my space. When I feel sad or angry, it's a place where I can relax and enjoy. Dance is the only thing that I know can and will help. At this point, my body just moves. It’s what I do.


SS: Do you like being President of the Western Core team? What are some of the things you think you've brought to the team after becoming President?

PB: I have a really nice team this year. The dancers are dedicated and I am enjoying my time with them. But I will admit that it takes a lot of time away from me. I would have liked to used some of that time to work on myself and just choreograph for fun, for myself. But I truly do not mind it that much.  

I think I am trying to achieve a level of professionalism that was lacking before. This year we are attempting to create shows that have previously not been done on stage. Peer learning is something that I am particularly stressing on. Each member teaches their style and learns others’ styles during our sessions. You will see it all on stage at the society's stage show this semester!


SS: You recently started offering hip-hop classes for Ashokans. Why did you do it and what has it taught you?

PB: In Ashoka, there is an absence of a culture of dancing among the general crowd. We are very far from Delhi, where all the good dance schools are, and it's difficult to go out frequently. So I thought, “why not share with people what I know?”  I love sharing my passion and a lot of interested people had asked me for classes as well. Hence this happened.

I've never taught for an extended period of time. Therefore, during the classes I have had to learn how to be patient with people, and how to structure the dance form and its teaching. I’ve learnt to do my own research prior to every class. I have also understood how to keep the sessions interesting for people who have never danced before.


SS: How do you plan on improving the dance culture at Ashoka?  

PB: Only God knows how talented the people on this campus are, because you don’t see people dancing in general. I want a culture to develop at Ashoka, where people come into a circle, dance one after the other and experiment with their styles. This can lead to dance battles. There is a lot to learn from such experiences. We need to shed our reservations; this is our own college after all!


SS: Where do you see the dance society in the next year? What plans do you have for it?

PB: I really don't know. The problem with dancing, or any art form for that matter, is that you don't know what might happen. I feel that, in time, we will become a lot more presentable even outside ashoka. It should not just be about fun anymore, I want it to be more serious as well. I want people outside campus to know about Ashoka and hence I will focus on more performances outside. I want the team to be so professional that we don’t need classes or choreographers from outside.


Edited by Yashasvi Arunkumar