Continuing the Legacy
When junior Vega Jethani was four years old, her mother hoped to pass on the joy of her own dance experiences to her daughter, so she enrolled Jethani in dance classes. Twelve years later, Jethani turned out a professionally trained Bollywood dancer and an officer of MV Andaaz.
Unlike many members, Jethani entered Andaaz with a clear understanding of the Bollywood style and intricacies. Her bollywood experiences at Mona Khan Dance Company (MKDC), beginning at the age of nine, prepared her thoroughly for what she would encounter on this team. However, Andaaz allowed her to grow and learn in many other aspects.
“I’m naturally a very shy and introverted person, but through Andaaz, I learned how to be a lot more comfortable around people I don’t know.” Jethani said. “I’ve opened up a lot more in general. I’ve also met some really cool people because of Andaaz and upperclassmen who I really look up to.”
Because of her extensive experiences at MKDC, Jethani is well versed in the in the complexities of the Bollywood style. However, despite the stylistic similarities between both her dance company and Andaaz, Jethani describes the environments of the two as quite different.
“I enjoy the set up we have in Andaaz more,” Jethani said. “Andaaz gives off more of a family vibe. It’s the kind of place you can make mistakes and be yourself. I’m just a lot more comfortable with the smaller but closer team. [Andaaz] is also a lot more stress relieving, personally, because of the people on our team.”
Though both these experiences have played different roles in her life, she credits both of them in shaping her passion for dance.
“I’m really grateful for both [MKDC and Andaaz] and I’m glad that because I do both, I get to spend that much more time doing something I’m so passionate about,” Jethani said. “And I’m even more glad to be surrounded by the people who share that passion, as well.
A change of heart
When she was seven years old, senior Priya Goel took her first dance lesson of Kathak, a traditional classical dance style rooted in North India. However, as Goel grew, so did her interests, specifically regarding dance. Goel began getting more and more into Bollywood, a radically different style of Indian dance. When she came to MVHS, she decided to give the MV Andaaz team a try. However, when she made the team her junior year, she credited a majority of her acceptance to her Kathak training.
“The first time I tried out, I did not make [the team]. Then, my junior year I really practiced [so I would make the team] and you could really see that improvement,” Goel said. “I feel like Kathak played a huge role in that because it really brought the fluidity into my movements and expressions.”
Though her dance experiences proved to be beneficial in getting her on the team, it could only take her so far. Goel believes that in certain instances, being a classically trained dancer actually hindered her progress on Andaaz.
“Sometimes I feel like if we do [styles like] hip hop, I’ll try to make the step more elegant or graceful,” Goel said. “I usually try to infuse my Kathak style into it but it really doesn’t work because they are like completely different dance styles.”
Though being a classical dancer made it difficult for Goel at times, it proved to be extremely significant in both her work ethic and stylistics later on.
“Kathak has taught me to really put in the time to practice,” Goel said. “It also taught me not to stop [until I] really get every [move] right and finish every step, which is so important no matter what style you’re dancing, whether it be pure classical or Bollywood or Kathak.”
Despite her initial hesitancy towards the Bollywood style and nuances, her time and increasing comfort on Andaaz has led her to enjoy Bollywood more than Kathak.
“Now, more so than ever, [I lean towards] Bollywood,” Goel said. “But in the beginning, when I wasn’t as familiar with Bollywood [and] I didn’t have as much practice or experience, I definitely leaned towards Kathak just because I didn’t feel like I looked nice while I did [Bollywood] but now I’ve gained that confidence.”
A leap of faith
No dance background
As he began his 2017-18 school year, current senior Apoorv Pachori decided it was time to take a leap of faith and try something new: MV Andaaz. Pachori had no dance background when he tried out but believes it is one of the best decisions of his MVHS experience.
“I decided to join the team last year because the members all looked like a family and I could tell they were very close,” Pachori said. “[I knew] I wanted to be a part of that.”
Despite his lack of knowledge regarding dance in general, Pachori worked hard and kept up with his practice. In fact, by the end of his
first year on the team, he was made a captain.
Though he was new to the feel of Bollywood style dancing, Pachori wasn’t intimidated when he first joined the team. He was brought up in a dance-filled atmosphere which made him comfortable with that of Andaaz.
Pachori acknowledges the noticeable lack of male interest in dance in general, though he doesn’t necessarily agree with it. In fact, he recommends that boys give dancing a try, expecting the outcome to be rewarding.
“I would advise [boys] to just go for it. Everyone thinks that dancing is just for girls, which couldn’t be more untrue,” Pachori said. “Guys worry about their “masculinity” but nobody ever questions how ‘manly’ someone is because they dance.”
Ultimately, like for his peers, Andaaz has served as a learning ground for Pachori both as a dancer and a person. He claims his personality grew a lot more under the rich experience of being on Andaaz alongside his fellow dancers.
“The team really brought me out of my shell,” Pachori said. “I had been a pretty reserved person [before I joined the team], but through the people I met by being on this team I [got] to learn to become social and expressive.”