Meet Vivek Parikh, from Mumbai, now settled in Canada, who sets the stage on fire with his enthralling moves as he has danced across 24 countries through out the world. He chose dance breaking stereotypes, challenging his own talent and bringing out in front of the audience that form of art which he loves the most. A dancer, aiming at increasing its exposure and fame across boundaries. He lives in his own world of dance which he has created surrounding himself. He lives the ‘Dance’. Visit his YouTube channel featuring a number of dance videos in Indian contemporary form and tune into his dance moves.
Vivek’s Interview with Student Stories :
When and why did you choose your dancing career?
I first began dancing when I was 15. I needed to get away from many negative aspects in life that were happening around that time frame and couldn’t find an outlet to release my stress. I then got introduced to dance and then I fell in love with it from that moment onwards. It became a source of happiness, a platform I could rely on. Another reason why I chose dance is because it challenged me everytime. Each time I try a different style, song it forced me to get out of my comfort zone and that in itself was a big push for me and helped me grow into the dancer I am today.
What inspired you to be a successful dancer? Whom do you consider as a role model?
More than a successful dancer I wanted to break some stereotypes. Majority of the shows or events I went to I only saw female dancers and more or less male dancers were barely visible as dancing was regarded to as a female activity. This stereotype turned many people I know away from dance because they didn’t want to be classified as doing a “girly” activity. For me dance was just dance it wasn’t a classification of genders and I still went on to pursue it because I loved it. I enjoyed every bit of time I could get in the studio and just lived it up, and now I’m breaking those stereotypes here by teaching the younger generation that dance is an activity enjoyed by all and can be portrayed in any shape or form you like. It doesn’t represent a gender, religion, caste it’s an art and this art can be embodied and portrayed by any emotion you feel. My role models have to be my parents. The main reason for that is because they came here with literally nothing and worked their lives to make sure my sister and I are comfortable. They have always supported me in my art form and criticized me whenever needed even though I don’t appreciate it. But it was their constant support, push and grit that inspired me to do the same for my business and life as there is never a substitution for hard work.
How did you manage your studies along with dancing as a profession?
It was all about time management and focus. When I was in school and university studying I was only studying and didn’t think about things I had to get done with dance. And when I was in dance I completely forgot about any school work/ exams that I had. I always kept in mind my priorities and worked them out together and eventually learned to scrutinize every minute that I have in a day.
How has your life changed while you came in this field of dance?
Life has definitely become more dynamic and eventful since I’ve been in this field. I say that because dance always makes me think and challenge my creativity. Each time I try to choreograph something I like to make it different, unique or eye-catching. Life has become more dynamic because it helps me break out of my routine of day to day tasks, helps me calm down and get a good workout in. It’s eventful as each choreography I do I work with different people and just meeting and interacting with various artists in Toronto just makes the process of making a dance piece enjoyable.
Tell our readers one of your most memorable experiences and one of your best performances.
One of my most memorable experiences was in Mumbai when I was competing in Dance India Dance North America Top 20. It was memorable as it was one of the biggest stages I’ve ever performed on and even living in Canada I’ve always watched that TV show and was fascinated by how these dancers are capable of pulling such unreal stunts and performances but then there I was living it and actually performing on that same stage where such big artists have made their name. One of my best performances would be the Justin Timberlake production I put together with my team a couple years ago. We had singers, dancers, musicians and essentially made the whole show a production having live dancing and singing while ensuring the audience stays engaged throughout.
How has your dancing career been growing through all these years?
My dancing career has been steadily growing throughout these years. I try not to compare myself to other artists because they have their own style, own vibe and they have their own factor which makes them unique. I am doing the same in that sense by constantly pushing myself and just seeing what I can improve on and not in competition with anyone but myself. Just trying to grow as an artist an dancer one day at a time.
How does criticism from the audience keeps you motivated?
It depends on the criticism I receive from the audience. Is it constructive or just blatant hate? I try to classify it first myself before trying to let it affect my mind because in this world there will always be someone that disagrees with what you are trying to portray and working on and sometimes you just have to believe what you are doing is correct and try and fail rather than fail to try because of negative feedback. The negative feedback fuels me in a sense to work smarter and helps me figure out gaps in my thinking or helps me cover missing holes.
You have settled down in Canada. Do you have any plans of coming back to India? How has dance helped in establishing you over there?
I do miss being there from time to time. I miss the street food the most haha (laughs). But I do plan to come and visit to train in dance with some of the artists that I got in touch with when I came there last. As dancers in India are so robust and different it’s always amazing to see a new level and standard of dancing which is really inspiring for me.
What are your upcoming projects? What are your future goals in this field of entertainment?
My main project at the moment is mainly passing on what I love to my students and just making them love dance as much as I do. I eventually do want them to perform on bigger stages in the community and grow as artists themselves which I can see they do really well so far. As for field of entertainment I really would love to do big scale projects and choreograph pieces for movies or productions.
Could you share with us a few achievements of yours?
Here are a few achievements of mine:
1. Dance India Dance North America Top 20
2. Dance Singapore Dance 2nd audition round
3. Tarang ( Inter University competition in Singapore) 1st place
4. Danced across 24 countries in the world.
What were the struggles that you faced in this journey so far? How did you cope up and overcome those struggles?
One of the biggest struggles I had in my dance journey is patience. Patience in the sense that I always wanted results as soon as I post a new video or implement a new idea within the team. As an artist it is tough to be noticed and hard to get your name out there if you don’t have the right connections. No matter how good your content is sometimes the connections and people you know is the reason why you are successful. For me now I just learn to be patience and focus on improving my content instead of utilizing a connection to get myself out there. I just put in the effort into the work I put out and let the audience respond to it as it is more authentic that way and it will give you honest feedback which is very much required. As I mentioned before now I mainly focus on improving my journey of dance through seeing what I need to improve on and focus on making it stronger and better and that helps me cope with a lot of the mental struggles.
Did you receive any formal training? Or was this all out of your interest and passion?
Majority of the dancing has been out of passion and through my friends and mentors from a non-profit organization called UNITY (Urban Non-Violence Initiative Through Youth). The UNITY mentors truly pushed me to become a better dancer, performer and leader in the entertainment sector when I was young. They showed me how to channel my stress through dance in an effective manner and there are definitely some moves today I couldn’t have done without receiving training and focused guidance from them. I also took training in Los Angeles with crews such as Kinjaz, GRV, Bhangrafunk ( Shivani and Chaya) just to improve my style and get a fresh new perspective on choreography.
What is you message for the aspiring dancers out there?
The best message I can give aspiring dancers out there is instead of trying to be seen and get noticed as you want fame, it’s better to focus and cultivate your art for yourself. Focus and train on it relentlessly until you know you have reached a point where you can create content which will surprise everyone. As I said earlier there is no substitution for hard work and sometimes patience is required for your efforts and content to get noticed. And finally work together instead of against each other. There is already enough competition in the world and dance is one of those activities in which it’s better to grow as a team rather than compete with each other and try to succeed.