Sarita Koirala suits up in a kurta, applies light makeup and ties her hair neatly at the back. It’s 3 pm and the fifty-year-old lady is just done with her day’s errands. In a few minutes, she’ll be out shopping. Shopping for her next graceful moves with which she’ll bring the floor down.
She slowly approaches the dance floor and faces the full-size mirror on the wall as the loud thumping beats overtake the ambience, making the whole dance floor come to life.
Her eyes are glued to the movements of the instructor, and tapping her feet, she slowly sways her hips and makes moves that complement the rhythm of the music that plays in the background.
After she initiates the moves, the rest of the group follows her steps at the same pace. Similar scene repeats everyday which lasts for an hour at Dance Fever, a dance institution located in mid-Baneshwor.
Koirala was intrigued by dancing since her childhood days and it was more like a dream which she couldn’t fulfill.
“The conservative society that we live in didn’t consider dancing as a positive thing because they expected women to stay indoors and limit themselves to household chores. That’s why I never gave it a thought,” she explains.
It was after being aware of many women of her age taking up dance classes, Koirala immediately enrolled herself without having any second thoughts. “This is how I got to live my dancing dream in a pragmatic way.”
As soon as she wakes up, her hands are full with responsibilities to complete. But this lady is swift in wrapping up her work to attend her class just in time.
“As I engage myself in dancing, it just sweeps away all the anxiety, leaving me rejuvenated. Moreover, it’s a good form of workout, so it keeps me fit, too,” says the lady who is so spellbound by the art of dancing that she wouldn’t dare to miss even a single class.
The dance room echoes the most popular Bollywood songs along with the latest Nepali numbers, and the ladies practice the skills of freestyle dancing. They stretch themselves, tie up their shoelaces and put up their hair in a ponytail before they warm up to start their dance as the instructor plays the first track. It’s evident that the place is where the housewives have come to take a break from their daily responsibilities which include household chores and tending to their husbands and children’s never-ending needs.
While they take a break after finishing two tracks, Koirala is seen teaching a few moves to her fellow dancer who reaches class a little late.
Bishnu Banjade, 30, had also chosen to attend dance classes some five months back with the intention to reduce her weight. But with time, her interest started to grow.
Although she had tried working out at gyms before she was quite drawn by the ambience of the dance centre which included many housewives like her. “It was easy for me to feel comfortable as I could relate to them well, so there was no question of feeling shy,” she says.
Banjade believes that dancing not only works as her daily dose of exercise but is entertaining as well. Her husband has been very supportive throughout as he encourages her to continue dancing and offers to look after their two children while she attends the class.
As the track changes one after another, so do the dance beats of the ladies. The instructor guides the ladies to straighten their posture as they step back with their right foot on the front and lift their hands with grace. There are missed steps in between and giggles follow after as the ladies try their best to remember what they have been taught.
Rabina Shrestha, the instructor at the centre, allows the ladies to alter a few of the steps so that they can pick up the choreography in a natural way. She explains that the freestyle is typically a modern dance which includes salsa, hip hop and classical, to name a few, and the ladies seem eager to try out any form. Working as a dance instructor for the past five years, she has seen the number of housewives register for dance classes slowly increasing.
“Over the years, there’s been a wave of consciousness among the ladies to shape up. Moreover, during various festive occasions, they want to flaunt their dancing skills,” she explains. She has also seen many ladies come out of their inhibitions through dancing.
Shrestha gently corrects the steps of Maya Pandey, 33, who struggles to copy what she has been just taught. For Pande, living in a joint family has been a boon as she gets to share the household responsibilities among her family members.
“That’s how I get the free time to attend my dance classes.” Her husband and two daughters live in Germany, so she believes that dancing has been a good way to stay occupied. She usually prefers dancing to Bollywood tunes for being lively and fun.
“Rather than indulging in useless gossips and unproductive work, I think dancing is the best way to utilize your time,” says 41-year-old Anju Gupta as she speaks in support of Pande. She had taken seven months training a year back when unfortunately one day she had an accident when she was returning home from class. This sad incident led her to a gap year. For someone who has a fervent interest in dancing, it was indeed tough to refrain from dancing, even if it was just for
Gupta however was determined as ever. Her comeback after a year has been even more prolific as she has already caught up on the things that she had missed and mastered new moves as well. A dance enthusiast, it’s hard for Gupta to resist dancing when she hears her favorite track playing.
“Many women I know make excuses, saying that they don’t have time to take up extracurricular activities. But I think that even if you have kids, they don’t take away your whole time. You should be able to manage your time if you’re passionate about something,” says Gupta.
During the day, her kids are in school and after she finishes up her daily chores, she heads to class to get invigorated. She has tried yoga, visited gyms, dabbled in aerobics but she feels that dancing has been the best way to work out as well as stay positive. Another perk of attending dance classes, according to the lady, is having made some good friends.
“In today’s world, dance has become something which everyone knows and those who can’t dance look left out during times of celebrations,” justifies Gupta. “Whenever there are functions like Teej, Tihar, marriage ceremonies, it’s fun to dance with my friends. We also encourage and appreciate each other and that’s a feel-good factor.”
Similarly, Babita Mallik, 40, has been hooked ever since she joined the dance institute. She had a job before but has taken a break for a while. A Ph D student of Botany at Tribhuvan University, the lady is perfect in juggling her housework, her studies and her daily dose of entertainment – dance.
“Dancing not only refreshes me but it gives me more confidence and energy to focus on productive things,” she says. Mallik loathes the idea of wasting time watching dramatic serials which she believes just invites negativity, leaving your mind dull.
The one-hour vigorous session ends, leaving the ladies breathless and drenched in sweat. But the hard work has paid off as their faces glow with pride for finally mastering new steps and improving moves they failed to hone before. The next time any celebration takes place, they are ready to take on the stage and leave the crowd in awe as they flaunt their refined dancing skills.