Do you know the horror of having a father who is a drunkard? Alcohol abuse and Alcoholism is wreaking havoc and ruining millions of lives across India. The life of a child who has an alcoholic parent is lonely and frightening to say the least. Here is a true story of a family, particularly a boy named Shreyas Desai, who had to deal with such unfortunate circumstances in his childhood. With constant support from his mother, Shreyas transformed his life to become an HR professional and a well noted Dancer.
It was the 1990s. We used to live in Pune. Society then was a lot different and judgmental. My father was a drunkard. My Mom, my elder brother and I were victims of my Father’s alcoholism. We used to live in constant fear! My mother became our savior and took a brave decision that changed our lives forever. We ran away from Pune without telling our father. It still sends chills down my spine when I think about how my life would have turned out if we were to stay and tolerate my drunkard father. If not for my Mom’s brave step, maybe I would have remained on the streets.
When we came from Pune to Mumbai, I was a very timid child thanks to my past. I had always been a mute spectator to domestic violence. It was in class 5 when dance came to my rescue. I saw a group of kids dancing that made me smile. I wanted to do just that and my mother encouraged me to pursue dance. Dance greatly helped me keep stress at bay.
My Mom was working in Mumbai and bringing us up. I never felt for one moment that she had taken a wrong decision to leave Pune. My brother who is 5 years elder to me equally shares my thoughts.
Is it tough to be a Dancer?
Well there is this emotional perspective to dancing. There is a constant fear of rejection in the initial days of your struggle. I still remember my first stage show – I was rejected because they felt I would not look nice on stage. Yeah! You had to have good looks too. I was very disheartened. My mom constantly motivating me. That is the point, I decided not to look back.
Can you tell us more about your dancing skills?
I always had tremendous support from friends and family. I started dance with a small workshop. I was a folk dancer first. I learnt Indian and Maharashtrian Folk dance from 1999 till 2006. I trained in Salsa and Cha Cha Cha and later learnt Indian contemporary and also started doing Bollywood genre shows. I am now learning Kathak from Guru Nakul Ghanekar. I have completed 21 years in dance and I must say it has been quite a journey!
Shreyas has performed for “Akhil Bharatiya Natya Parishad” in presence of Amitab Bacchan in 2005. He had performed and worked with Hema Malini in her ballets in folk category named “Durga” and “Draupadi”. He has actively performed 100 plus folk dance shows from 2005 till date.
Do you train people as well?
I run two dance classes in Mumbai. I teach folk and other dance forms to more than 100 students. Shreyas Desai has hosted about 75 events, developed multiple concepts and executed them. Here are some interesting shows to name a few:
Ranga Loka Nritya Cha: A two hour show focusing on 16 forms of folk dances.
Rainbow : Connecting the colors with emotions through dance.
Kaha na Filmi Hai : A 2 hour dance ballet showcasing Bollywood era from 1931 till date.
Are you a full-time dancer?
Well, you can have dance as an avenue and do multiple activities in parallel. I completed my MBA and picked up a corporate job as a HR manager and I balance my passion for dance as well. My wife is a professional Kathak dancer. So dance is a part of our family.
Cool! Love Marriage?
Yes. We met in college. She used to perform as well and that’s where I first saw her. I convinced her to join my dance troop and there was no looking back. It has been 11 years since we have been working together and 5 years since we got married. We learnt Kathak together, and we conduct Dance workshops together. She has her own parallel career as well, in the field public relations at a media company. Both of us have managed to balance professions and passions.
Where have you last performed?
We are privileged to have gotten the opportunity to perform at major platforms/events in 2018. We performed at Kala Ghoda Arts festival in Mumbai, Holimo festival in Delhi, and India dance week led by renowned dancer Sandip Soparrkar.
We are currently working on a couple of projects. I am currently leading the role of Krishna in a musical ballet composed by Sangeet Martand Padmavibhushan Pandit Jasraj ji, monitored by Madhura Jasraj ji and choreographed by Nritya Darpan Kala Academy.
Shreyas Desai has been the recipient of more than 15 awards in performing arts and Indian folk dance.
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