BENGALURU: The pandemic has thrown art forms out of gear but dancer Lourd Vijay prefers to look at the brighter side. “It’s been a hard time, with many dancers finding themselves out of work. I can’t complain because there have been opportunities that have come up. We’ve now got students from Bahrain, France, the UK, and from across India,” says the 44-year-old who runs the dance studio, LVDS. The camaraderie he shares with his students extends beyond classes.
With lessons going online in the last six months, interactions have been zilch. So this weekend, his students in the 60s age group will be heading to Srirangapatna to catch up. “I have always shared a special bond with my students. When we have travelled to other countries, many of them have come just to cheer,” he says.
A moonlighting dancer until 2006, when he decided to take it up full time, Lourd recalls juggling his business of bottling water and dancing. “My career took a turn with dance,” says Lourd, who has travelled to over 40 countries with his art form. “The business was getting sticky and we found ourselves getting wedged in the market,” reveals the management graduate. At the same time, he opened a dance studio on Palace Road and found himself spending more and more time there even for business dealings. “By then the dance business had grown and I decided to make a clean switch. I think I was at the right place and right time,” he says, admitting that it was hard from a family and cultural perspective. “I didn’t choose dance, it chose me,” he adds.
His venture began expanding, with foreign tours, and his students competing at international levels, until November 2013, when he found his feet swelling. Dismissing it as fatigue, Lourd was in for a shock when he was diagnosed with kidney issues. “It was the universe’s way of telling me to slow down,” says Lourd, who then took a three-year sabbatical. Days were spent visiting hospital for dialysis, and dealing with day-to-day discomfort regarding food and water consumption. “The biggest worry was whether I would get a donor for a transplant. People said it could take 5-10 years or even up to 35 years,” says Lourd.
He was lucky to get one in 2014. Moving to the countryside and trying to work from home, his focus was managing his health and remaining mentally strong. While it’s been a long road to recovery, with dialysis taking a toll on his lungs, Lourd has worked around the challenges. “Even now if I do a high momentum dance for 30 seconds, it affects my breathing. But I’m just watchful and careful,” he says.
While he has stuck to online lessons, he is now planning to consider requests for private one-on-one classes at his studio in Cooke Town. His niche is Salsa, but his brand encompasses different forms, including hip hop and ballroom. Most of his Salsa students are those aged above 45 years, who are looking to pick up a sophisticated dance form. “The younger lot want to learn it to impress peers but those in their 40s look at it from a different point of view,” he says.
The troupe is now preparing for the Dance World Cup qualifiers in January 2021, which is likely to be held virtually. “We were set to go to Italy for the 2020 Dance World Cup, but it didn’t happen at all. We will now have to see whether it’s going to be combined with next year’s,” he says, about the event where his teams have often returned with golds.