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Embracing Hurdles with Grace – An Interview with the Showstoppers

Martha Graham had very rightly said, “Dance is the hidden language of the soul.”

Winding the clock back to last week at the Indian Hip Hop Championship 2017, the Showstoppers showcased a freestyle dance and fused it to the mesmerizing beat of Hip Hop music to win a Bronze for Manipal!

Now all geared up to represent the nation internationally in Arizona, a fifteen minute conversation with Arpit Garg gave us an insight into their inspiring and thrilling journey so far.

How did Bronze happen at a competition of such repute and stature? Was it because of consistent effort over these years or was it an easy nut to crack?

We earned Bronze in the mega crew division of the championship which was held in Mumbai on the 27th of May, 2017. We have been participating in this competition for the last four years but this is our first taste of the podium. Earlier we designated ourselves as an ‘adult crew’ and reached the finals twice. Last year we made it to the semi-finals. With the increasing level of competition every year, the decision to participate in the mega crew category made the difference.

How many teams participated from all over India? Were there adequate number of dancers in your team to qualify for the Mega Crew Category?

A total of nine teams qualified for the final round from all over the country. We had 15 in our crew making us eligible to change categories.

How did the team train for Hip-Hop? Was there any specific choreographer?

A professional choreographer  was one thing we lacked unlike the other teams that participated in the competition.

We innovate and create our own dance moves and fix it sequentially thereafter. It’s a cumulative effort and this is what makes our win so beautiful. Our team comprised of 7-8 hip hop dancers and the rest did classical and bhangra. It was unimaginable and beyond my comprehension the level of hard work put up by the non-hip hop dancers to win a hip hop dance championship.

Tell us about the team’s state of mind prior to the competition.

One of our crew members faced an emergency back home and was forced to go back a day just before the competition. So, we had to find a new dancer to replace him, make him aware of all the steps, get a costume of his size and make sure that our routine looks good and uniform, in a day. When I look back, I genuinely do not know how we pulled it off but we did it with utmost grace. It was a rocky road but at the end of it, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

What is a normal practice day for the Showstoppers?

Our daily practice sessions usually start with me screaming at the top of my voice “paagalon, uth jao” (giggles slightly)

We start off with warm up exercises and basic stretches. It generally begins from 10:00 AM and lasts all the way till 9 at night. We concentrate to make our choreography perfect and give our one hundred percent every day.

Representing the country in an international platform indeed speaks volume. Take us through the emotions you and your team is experiencing at the moment.

(Takes a pause to give it a thought)

In a word, it’s surreal. It’s beyond every emotion that I have come across till now, I’m excited, nervous, patriotic everything at the same time. It’s a well-deserved opportunity and it’s an honour for the team and myself to be able to represent India.

What is next? What is the upcoming competition that is scheduled in the United States?

The competition is named Hip Hop International, 2017. It’s going to be held in Phoenix, Arizona in the first week of August.  Most of us are in between 18-20 years of age and it’s most definitely a dream come true for each one of us to share the stage with dancers from all over the world possessing the utmost caliber.

What would be the expected total expenditure and how do you plan on reaching there? Is the university willing to support financially?

The tour is extremely expensive. It divides up to about 2.25 lakh per person. The total expense comes out to be around 35 lakhs. And being college undergraduates, it’s nearly impossible to get so much money. As of now, we have been successful in managing only Rs. 75,000. It’s less but it’s something and this is one of the main reasons as to why we need the University to support us. We are talking to other people as well but unless and until our own people do not show confidence in supporting us, others won’t even think about it.

We have also been crowdfunding on Milaap to aid us in raising the required amount. It would be really great if people believe in us, appreciate our efforts and aid us in taking Manipal and the Indian flag to the States for the competition.

I just want people to know that we have struggled a lot to reach till here. We have had a lot of sleepless nights in the past few weeks, the only thing that I want is people’s trust and support. Me and my crew won’t disappoint, I’ll make sure of that.

The MIT Post wishes the best the team and hopes you will be able to overcome all the obstacles and make the University and the country, of course, beam with pride.

To contribute to The Showstoppers’ Crowdfunding Campaign, please visit https://milaap.org/fundraisers/help-us-represent-india

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