Vartika Jha danced her way from the Indian Streets to Remo D’Souza’s Street Dancer 3D. She won lakhs of hearts by reaching the finals of DancePlus 04. Vartika totally danced her way into our hearts by talking to Storiyaan. To be a part of her journey, read her interview below:
Questions and answers
You started dancing at a very young age. At what point in your life did you realize that dance was your calling?
It was when I was in class 10, which was when I was a 15-year-old. Before that, I also used to love grooving to any music, but when I turned 15, I realized that this is what I want to do in my life. I still remember not having a lot of dance classes in my area. I had to travel all the way 15 kilometres from my home to the classes, either in trucks or buses, because we did not have a lot of cabs. Being a small-town girl, I had a lot of struggles to face, but all of it was worth it because I used to get to learn a lot.
A lot of dancers get nervous before stepping on the stage. What do you do to cheer yourself up before your performance?
See, when you step on the stage, it is very usual to have those butterflies in your stomach.
I, too, get anxious, but more than that, it is exciting to perform yet another dance and the opportunity to prove myself all over again. My parents are my biggest strength, and when I remember them, I feel a surge of ‘I can do it’ in my body, and I get the adrenaline rush to do my best.
From participating in many dance reality shows to venturing in Bollywood with Street Dance, was it a part of the plan to debut in Bollywood?
I cannot say that it was part of the plan. So, what had happened was during a performance in Dance Plus, they had announced that I would be in their very next movie, which was Street Dancer. I was overwhelmed because it was a dream come true for me to actually get an opportunity to work in a dance movie, alongside Varun Dhawan. From Dance Plus to Street Dancer, it was one hell of a series of life-changing experiences. I was on cloud nine, and from there, I knew that there is no looking back.
Talking about the movie, can you elaborate on how it was shooting for the same and if there is any memorable incident that you would like to share with us?
We shared the best memories while shooting the song, Illegal weapon. It was shot in Dubai, and the temperature in Dubai at that time was very high. We were agitated as it was scorching. But we continued to shoot and completed the song, which was the best part. All of us were together, and despite the hot temperature, we had a lot of fun.
From being a dancer to a choreographer of India’s Best Dancer, can you tell us about how your journey has been?
So far, it has been amazing.
When I dance, the focus always is on doing my best and nothing else. When I was a choreographer, I had to consider all the aspects of performance, before making any conclusion. So yes, it was an extremely challenging job with every elimination, my heart used to break a little, and we had to keep them motivated, so it was a lot of pressure on our sides too. However, the journey has been thrilling, with a lot of ups and downs as well. I kept getting out of my comfort zone and took little steps in the upward direction because that is only when you get to learn and grow.
Dancing is a craft in itself. What makes you a fantastic dancer?
In my opinion, what makes me stand out is my dance, my flexibility, and the quest for a great performance with every move. I have a unique style of dancing, and perhaps that is what makes me different.
You belonged to a middle-class family. What were the major hardships that you have sailed through in your life until now?
I have had all the hardships that every middle-class Indian dancer faces. Though my parents were extremely supportive, my surroundings were not very accepting. It was a very conservative locality, where I used to live. A lot of people, even today, have a mindset that a career in dancing is not a stable career option, which is not always true. People used to pass nasty comments and would keep saying to my parents that they are overspending on me and that you cannot make a living out of dancing. That was the major struggle that my parents and I had to go through.
Since you play music all the time, what is your personal favourite when it comes to music?
Honestly saying, I love listening to independent artists, songs of the 2000s, songs made by Vishaal Shekhar, string bands and coke studios. I had also started an initiative to promote independent and local artists. I feel they are quite underrated. I have sung and composed two songs, and so music has always been very close to my heart.
Since its quarantine, how are you keeping yourself busy?
I mostly dance and practice during this quarantine, whenever I have nothing to do. I keep doing a lot of weird experimentation with my style of dancing. At times, I play aloud Bhojpuri music and dance on it. I’m always thinking about ways to improve myself.
Can you tell us about how a regular Sunday looks in Vartika’s life?
To be honest, I don’t get leaves on Sundays. We are shooting most of the time, and then we take a day off once the shoot is over. When I get leaves, I rehearse and practice, and that’s how a regular week passes by. It is fun because I am doing what I love, all the time!
Dancing is all about expression. Being a professional dancer, can you shed light on how one can improve their ability to express while performing?
Dance is all about letting out your emotions, whatever your state of mind is. Expressions are closely linked with dancing as we can only express certain feelings when we can feel them deeply. Expressing is a significant component when it comes to dancing.
What are the key elements that, according to you, are essential in making a dance performance super impressive?
In my view, the hook steps are essential, and as I said earlier, your ability to express your feelings. Expressing yourself is very important, as your audience should be able to relate to you and feel your beats and emotions. This is a vital element, which shouldn’t be skipped at any cost.
How do you cope up with setbacks in your personal and professional life? What is your way of working things out?
All of us go through rough patches in our life, and all of us have our ways of coping up. When I feel low, the first thing I do is call up my Dad. I let everything out, and he patiently listens to it, after which he motivates me and tells me to create an aura around me that keeps everyone around me positive and happy. So that little pep talk with my Dad always brightens my mood, no matter what.
Do you have a plan at the moment for five years down the line?
I want to represent India at an international level if I ever get to do that. For now, I am trying to be in the moment, learning, growing, and enjoying everything that I do.
What is that one thing that you would like to advise all the budding dancers out there?
You always attract what you think. If you believe in yourself, everything in the world will help you achieve what you want. Believe in yourself, stay positive, and keep practising!
Lastly, what do you feel, are dancers born or made?
I don’t think dancers are born. If you are passionate about something, you will work in that direction and excel naturally. It is all about the amount of enthusiasm you have towards some specific things in your life. No one is born with any extra capabilities; we all are born equal. What we do after is all that matters.