“Not all success stories are supposed to create a stir or be shouted out to the world, some are just to be remembered and smiled upon.”

- Anonymous

Snehal Patil


The Story

Dance: for some people, it’s a way to express, for others it’s a cure for sadness but for me, it is even more. This all began when an 8-year old me was reluctantly enrolled in Kathak classes. My parents were fond of arts and were excited to try out new arena’s, this was about to be my niche for the next 4 years. For me, it was just a fitness ritual back then but in no time I developed a love for the art.

I had always been an introverted kid who was confined to her world. For me school life was all about excelling at studies, reading everything I could get my hands on and performing at various functions. Except that I never tried to explore what kind of person I wanted to become. As I grew up new challenges came on, studies became gruesome and I had to part my ways with Kathak, it became a lost art for me. Soon school ended and I began JEE coaching, mainly because it seemed challenging and after 2 years of monotonous work, there, I was standing at the gates of the prestigious Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology. 

With mixed feelings about everything, I wasn’t very sure what I was getting myself into. But this time I had promised to be more open, more accepting and, more fearless. College was filled with new experiences, with people from all walks of life trying to create their own little space. I was truly enthralled by their eccentric stories and the amount of creativity the college held. There were numerous clubs recruiting freshmen and we all searched for the places we belonged to. 

In all this, I stumbled upon a message about the auditions for the semi classical dance club and at that moment I felt that this was where I belonged. After being parted from Kathak for so long, I was still unsure about it but I signed up. A few days later, there we were, standing in front of six elegant seniors who possessed a similar passion for dancing. To get in, we had to replicate a Bharatanatyam step. As beautiful as it was, it being a completely different style and a tough one too, it was just too much for me to process and I struggled with it. The seniors were considerate enough and made me do a Kathak step. I somehow pulled myself together and spontaneously showed them a piece.

As I got back to my room I was sure about not getting in and soon forgot all about it. A few hours later a text popped in, saying that we want you to be part of us and I was delighted by the amount of trust they had shown into me. So ALAIPAYUTHE became the first society I ever was a part of.

We were a diverse group of ten, with girls from all parts of the country as well as a few who were NRI’s, there were some with dancing experience of more than ten years and a few who were absolute noobs at it. We all tried to bring our own culture into the group. The seniors welcomed us with open arms and all compassion possible and it soon felt like we were a family.

When I say we were a group of ten, it’s the ten who performed but there were many more behind the curtains. Every girl who had ever been part of Alaipayuthe, remained one. They had passed out of college, were busy with their careers but still took out time for us. It was not just merely wishing on birthdays but also sharing their ideas, pointing out our mistakes, being ambitious and, finding happiness in our every success. I often wondered what made them stick so well.

As days passed on we began practicing for a dance competition which was to be held during the cultural fest of the college. It was a two-tier event and we had to clear the eliminations to move ahead. The rigorous sessions began where we were practicing a beautiful Bharatanatyam -fusion routine. My inexperience with the dance form and its complexity hit me hard. I wasn’t able to do justice to the routine and was standing out in a not so good way. Being truly disappointed with myself and scared of ruining the entire performance, I wanted to quit badly. It was the belief that the seniors had in me, which made me stay and I just couldn’t let them down. At this point, my fellow batchmates stood by me. Although being exhausted from all the practices they taught me all from the basics, the correct posture, the mudra and, the expressions. With all these efforts, I blended well with the group and to my disbelief, I had come a long way.

It was tough for us to understand why clearing the eliminations was so important but the sparkle in the eyes of our seniors made us work harder. The piece was skillfully crafted with unusual songs, weird choices of props and, the immense creativity which left me in sheer awe. They were fun sessions filled with love and laughter. Our opinions mattered and we truly were made a part of all of it.

As the d-day came, we all had our adrenaline shots, the air was filled with excitement, restlessness and, anticipation. With more than five hours of grooming, we looked aesthetically perfect and were all set to set the stage on fire. With all the uncertainties around, we wanted to leave no scope for mistakes. The stars were on our side and we all gave our best that day. The performance turned out to be perfect and the pride in our eyes made all the hard work worth it.

Since then we have performed on several occasions, tried out different styles ranging from contemporary to tutting and wacking. But our first performance holds a special place in my heart. I’ve seen people puking two minutes before a performance and still giving their best on the stage and that for me is the true essence of team spirit.  

Dance is my happy place, an outlet for my feelings and it brings out a different side of me but dancing at VNIT was more than that. It gave me a sense of belonging and triggered life-long friendships. Here, I met people who were beautiful inside-out and together we created tons of memories. This experience is special not because I had developed any killer dance moves but because what seemed like a huge mistake soon became my happy place. This is where I realized that exploring is not only about trying out new things but also sticking to them when it gets tough. It’s about believing in yourself when everything seems to fall apart. This experience made me more accepting and amplified my fearless version. Since then I’ve tried it all, from something as vague as a charcoal art workshop to learning about those technical software. I’ve failed miserably several times but it has just humbled me up.

There is a long way to go but I guess it all began with dancing.

With freshmen year almost about to end and me becoming the so-called “senior”, I look forward to meeting a lot of newbies and becoming a part of their story as the people around me became part of mine.


Edited By :

Priyanka borwanker

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