If you’re a hip hop dancer anywhere in this world, one of your favorite pastimes is watching choreography videos on YouTube. Some household names include Brian Puspos, Ian Eastwood, and Chachi Gonzales, and the list goes on. However, there is a hidden gem in the world of hip hop that seems to be frequently overlooked by those who aren’t directly involved. South-Asian hip hop offers an advantage that regular hip hop does not: Bollywood. With Bollywood dance, not only can hip hop be incorporated, but traditional Indian dance can as well, such as Bharatnatyam and Bhangra. Unfortunately, there is no Brian Puspos or Ian Eastwood of Bollywood that can be easily YouTubed.
We’re trying to showcase unique aspects of Indian culture and Indian dancing itself. It’s not just rooted into what most people think Bollywood is today, especially in the American culture,” said Rohit.
Meet Rohit. Rohit is a Rutgers Class of 2013 alumnus who majored in Communication and minored in Psychology. As a Rutgers student, he was very involved with an on-campus dance team called Rutgers South Asian Performing Arts (commonly known as Rutgers SAPA). He was also a choreographer, director, and dancer for a South Asian professional dance company called AATMA Performing Arts. After graduating, he decided to take his talents to a more global platform. He started choreographing, filming, and editing his own videos as a solo artist. After releasing a few videos, he decided to expand his project to make it more large-scale.
Meet Atul. Atul is a Rutgers Class of 2016 student majoring in Astrophysics and Mathematics. Atul is currently involved with SAPA and is also a choreographer for AATMA Performing Arts. Atul and Rohit met while dancing in SAPA, working together as dancers and choreographers. Rohit approached Atul about collaborating on YouTube videos, something Atul was interested in doing. With immense support from friends and family, they ventured forward with the project.
It’s not that there isn’t enough choreography and dancing that has been put up on YouTube, but I guess we haven’t reached the scale that we’re capable of in terms of dance production and filming,” said Rohit.
There are an abundance of dancers from different South-Asian countries that can be found on YouTube like on Dance India Dance, for instance. However, a South-Asian dancer from the United States has yet to make a name for his or herself as a choreographer on YouTube. This is what Rohit and Atul are setting out to do, and the two are a dynamic duo. While both are incredible dancers and choreographers, they each split their talent equally, with Atul focusing more on choreography and Rohit working on producing, filming, and editing all of their vidoes. Producing and editing choreography videos with absolute finesse is a marketable tool the two dancers believe will sky-rocket their product.
I think it’s about time that the Indian culture gets into this YouTube circuit, and we showcase our creativity as well as our unique choreography,” said Atul.
Rohit and Atul hope that through producing these videos, they will be able to motivate others to showcase their own talents and encourage creativity. They also hope to stray away from the South-Asian stereotype of absolute academia and to embrace the more creative side the culture is capable of. Look out, Internet. Bollywood is about to institute a takeover.
Here’s Rohit and Atul’s latest project:
By Ruchika Devalapalli
Photos courtesy of Phillip Shvartsman and Atul Divakarla