When someone tells you that he has done his BSc in environmental science and MBA in marketing and also tells you about the mineral water bottling company he used to run , the last thing you would imagine him do is dance. A resident of Davis Road (Cox Town), Lourd Vijay went on to do just that. He went on to start LVDS (Lourd Vijay’s Dance Studio) in 1998 and since then he has never looked back. He didn’t have everything going for him because back then, many were not open to the idea of one being self employed let alone teaching dance. In the beginning there were critics who even told him that he can’t dance and that Salsa is frivolous!
But today, Lourd is considered a Salsa Guru and pioneer of Latin American dance and culture.
Started with six students fourteen years ago, LVDS today has over 800 students in the seven centres in Bangalore, 400 in Chennai and 120 in the Mumbai branch started about a year ago.
In 2010, he was even appointed the ambassador for ‘The Hong Kong Salsa Festival’, the biggest salsa congress in Asia in which he has been a performer and instructor for many years. Last year, he set a Guinness record for the most number of swing dance flips in a minute, adding six more to the previous record of 33.
“I gave a lot of performance in my school and college days. Even while doing my MBA in St. Josephs College, I used to make time and travel abroad to learn dance. I did an intensive Latin dancing training in Vancouver and Toronto. Back then I never thought of pursuing dance full time. Its just that I took my passion seriously.”
And how did his parents react when he left his business and started his dance company?
“I used to manage a mineral water bottling company called Deccan Spring Private Limited where I was taking care of everything from management to business development. When I told my parents about my decision to pursue dance full time, they were a bit reluctant initially. But, later they realised I was serious about dance.” Lourd believes in giving your 100 per cent in whatever you do. He adds, “Its difficult to manage when you have a regular job and you also have to follow your passion simultaneously. At some point, you have to make a call on what you really want to do. You need to take that risk.”
A knee problem which Lourd has had for the past 6 years has kept him away from actively teaching dance . But he has six trainers and 40 part time instructors who conduct classes for over 1000 students who visit the studio every month. He also founded a registered public charitable trust called Indian Society for Performers and Teachers Dance (ISPTD) in 2005, dedicated towards empowering individuals and sensitising society through the arts. About the trust, he says,”The idea was to empower youth and conduct vocational training programmes through dance. We ask NGOs to nominate participants in order to obtain hundred per cent scholarships for the professional dance development certificate programme. We have around 11 children on board this time.”
He feels that there is a lot of potential in children from the economically weaker sections of the society. “ There are so many children living in the slums who are extremely talented. Many of them aren’t interested in studying because they know that eventually they will be sent to a construction site to work. Its better to empower them in something they love doing,” he signs off.