While there are a whole lot of organisations working towards providing underprivileged kids with food and education, there aren’t many that focus on the arts – especially dancing. That’s how the directors of Sinhayana Foundation felt when they started an initiative to give free dance education to underprivileged kids.
Through dance, they hoped they could give them some skills and help them make a living. So, they called it Dance Out Of Poverty (DOOP).
Mansi Dhanak, Vinay Sharma and Raja Singh wanted to give that extra push to underprivileged kids passionate about dancing but didn’t have the means to take it further.
Starting it, however, was a challenge. People around them didn’t believe teaching dance to the kids would necessarily help. ‘“Maybe you should feed them” or “Why don’t you educate them” were the kind of questions they were asked.
But when they held auditions in the slum areas of Mumbai and Delhi, the turnout, as well as the potential, took them by surprise.
From the time it began in 2016 to now, the initiative has helped provide free dance education to over 300 kids. A team of paid, full-time choreographers, along with a few volunteers, teaches the kids all year round through regular workshops in Delhi and Mumbai, with their efforts culminate in an annual show attended by celebrities.
Bollywood choreographer Saroj Khan mentored their last workshop.
So why dance? “Dancing has not only helped kids with the talent to enhance their skills, it has also kept them away from drug addiction, and other such bad influences,” Mansi told The Better India.
“One of our students was falling into the trap. He didn’t have the means to get professional training in dance, and nothing else would interest him. So he was slowly drifting away. It stopped once he joined us,” she added.
Initially, the idea of their kids learning how to dance professionally was too foreign for the parents. How would dancing help them secure a future, was their question. However, when they saw how happy and passionate their kids were once they started with the training, they changed their outlook.
With the help of DOOP, about 10 students have found jobs in dancing, with some working as assistant choreographers and others getting offers for freelance gigs.
Soon they’re going to get there own space – so far they’ve been collaborating with other venues – and continue the education in dance for these talented kids!
Know more about the initiative here.