Dance is not a profession that all dare to dream. While some drop it mid-way, some continue it as a secondary career and some keep it as a hobby. Very few make it a profession and a fraction of them are able to succeed. For 27-year-old Jagadish Kumar, high risk factor and instability in the profession were not hindrances, but challenges that he was determined to face. “After my schooling in Bengaluru, I was sure of taking up dance seriously. I auditioned and joined Swingers Dance Studio, where I worked for eight years,” says the instructor whose independent institute Viscosity Dance Academy in Chennai is now a year old.
A keen interest to have an exposure in the West made Kumar join the Broadway Dance Center in New York, where he received a six-month long training. “Jazz, Hip-Hop, Ballet are not Indian dances; hence I wanted to learn these from where they had their sources so that I can pass on the most authentic forms to my students. Moreover, there is so much to learn in terms of technology, use of light, stage management from the dance companies in the West that I had to make a visit to expand my knowledge and experience,” adds Kumar.
After his training in the US, Kumar revised his teaching modules and training techniques. He devised the High Impact Tanz-Fitness—a special fitness programme that combines 30 minutes of body-weight workout followed by 30 minute of high-intensity dance workout, and rounding off with 10 minutes of breathing exercises. The idea is to make dancers fit in every aspect. Recently, he has added pilates and yoga to the exercise routine.
“My classes are different and that’s not an over statement. At Viscosity, one gets to specialise a dance form rather than learn too many things in one class. Workouts are specially designed to lose calories and tone muscles,” he says. But isn’t that a claim many institutes have today? In fact, Zumba has a similar goal too. “Zumba is a power-packed cardio session that targets losing calories. It is a physical activity and does not help you to learn a dance style in the process,” Kumar explains. There have been cases where students have lost up to 15 kgs of weight and several inches.
Talking about the fitness buffs of today’s world, Kumar says, “People want to explore. They are conscious of their weight, height and look. So, fitness programmes have gained a momentum even in a city like Chennai, which was and is strongly dominated by the traditional classical music and dance forms.”
But why did he choose to settle in Chennai instead of his native Bengaluru? He quips with confidence in his smile, “Chennai people are more open today. There is demand and acknowledgement for good work.”
Viscosity has about 70 students in total. They are grouped into batches of 10-15. From children as old as three years to adults as young as 50, enjoy the sessions carefully designed by the dancer. Many of these students perform as part of the academy in various shows, while many opt for the specialised certified three-year courses. But, all of this according to Kumar is because of his exposure in New York. Sharing his experience of the city he adds, “It is a city any dancer must visit. There is so much to see, enjoy and imbibe. It is the most happening city in the world when it comes to dance and theatre. And the broadway experience is more than just amazing.”
Kumar has learnt the trends of the market, grasped the art of commercialisation and is all set to open branches in Chennai; and work in collaboration with artistes from other parts of India. Reality shows inspire him and he keeps updating his movements. “At the end of the day, it is not just trade and commerce for me; it is my passion and I work hard to do justice to it,” he says as he wraps up the conversation to continue with his evening classes.