Aayushi Bhatnagar

I was young and an enthusiast for dance. I started off by learning Kathak from both Gharanas of Lucknow and Jaipur. Initially, I had support of both my parents for this particular form of dance. However, my father was little indecisive about my choices as a dancer as I had also done well in my academics and somewhere wanted me to pursue career in same. Being a bright student, I always were expected to be focused on my studies, curbing down any side hobbies or passions I have. I am a biotechnologist and an engineer. Society acknowledging that chose to throw tantrums at me, kept nagging with the phrases with “put so much effort in studies”, “your father has invested a lot of money in you”, “that dance is a waste of time”. But not choosing something I am driven about; wouldn’t that be waste of talent?


I wanted to be an artist and a choreographer. Then I put my foot in the world of belly dancing. A very unconventional and untraditional form of dance in the Indian society. It was and still is viewed as vulgar, obscene and something that Indian mindset cannot accept easily as they would for Kathak at one point. I had to struggle, pave a way to it. I had to face many difficult times. Although, my father always appreciated my choreography skills, my dance and my love towards it but society and its 

nosy behaviour kept poking him with their so-called concerns regarding it, explaining it as wrong and lewd and placing kathak as cultural and right. However, he chose to stood by me. Not only that, I had to face atrocities through my college life as well. Collegiates talked about my interest around 

belly dancing instead of studies, questioned my choices as if they are supposed to make them, made fun and gossiped. I barely had any friends. For initial 3 years, I was quite demotivated, had not zeal to do anything, could not see a way as there was no will. My own teammates also pushed me down, declaring Kathak and Indian forms of dancing as ‘boring’ and ‘a drag’ , western are worth learning. In fact, I was slut shamed and called names. Nevertheless, I didn’t lose my hope and kept going and working on myself.


One day, I decided to put forward the long pending proposal I had in my mind to my Dean and Dance coordinator of that time to make a society of Indian classical dance form. The proposal got accepted and I became the first person to establish ‘Nrityang’ in my college. In the starting, there were very a few member but over time and promotions, more people me and is one of the biggest societies in the college. This kickstarted joined. Now, I have 50-60


students under me and is one of the biggest societies in the college. This kickstarted my Instagram journey. I posted reels, videos and posts regarding same. Moreover, met my first belly dancer teacher, Eshan Hilal, from Banjara school of dancing. It top notched my belly dancing career. Since then, I have been growing and learning. I have collaborated with international artists as well. It feels good. It feels honest to myself and to my work. I aspire to become to an actor and impart my knowledge to my students as an artist. Choosing not to give up and keep going were ways to prevent myself from feeling 

good for nothing or depressed. Not giving into societal expectations even when bombarded with them was a tough time but I overcame. I would really love my readers to know that do not beat yourself over failures. You learn, you grow, you try again and then you achieve but you never give up. Do not be afraid of failures but of not trying.

Thank you! 

Aayushi Bhtanagar