Coming to terms with my insecurities

I have several insecurities. I have found it very useful to put my insecurities out there, so I do not feel vulnerable or guilty about them. I do not think I will ever overcome and forget about my insecurities, but I can make peace with them.

The first step to making peace with my insecurities is by acknowledging and being aware of it.

So here goes…my biggest insecurities:

> Physical: my body, my hair, my skin, my eyebrows, and my lashes. However stupid this may sound, yes my physical insecurities sometimes do take a big toll on me. Ever since I was a little girl, people around me passed ‘interesting’ remarks about my appearance. This shaped how I started to look at myself. Day-by-day I am trying my best to overcome this, but it is not easy when I was made to feel unattractive for years.

> Relationship: I have been in quite a few relationships now. In each one, I felt like I was a 2nd option. I think (well I hope) the guy I was with on each occasion in the past, did not intentionally want to make me feel that way, but I did. I felt like I was never good enough. It’s my perception of those relationships. I have grown a lot since. I am now grateful to be in a relationship where I feel loved and cherished and made to feel like a number 1. Nonetheless, my emotions and insecurities associated with my past relationships sometimes to seep through and take a toll on my security in my current relationship. Sometimes I feel like I am going in circles. I give my boyfriend a hard time as a result. I am really trying my best to grow beyond my past emotions, so both him and I can be happy and stress-free. It is a work in progress.

> Career: Let’s be real. I am in one of the most rewarding careers ever. I am so freaking proud of myself for it. It is not easy being a doctor at all. I am doing my level best to be as good of a doctor as I can. At the same time, I am trying to balance my dance career. It is so tough. I feel exhausted and demotivated so much of the time. I then see all these Instagrammers who are dancers, constantly produce amazing content. I feel the pressure that I may need to produce content regularly to validate that I am dancer. This takes me into a whirlwind of negative emotions. Guess what, f*ck it. I am and will always be a dancer. Producing content is not what the success my dance career is going to be defined by. My definition of success in the dance world is very different to several others’ definition. Therefore, I should not feel pressured to have to fall into the trap of trends, producing videos, etc. That is not where my focus lies, not for the time being anyway. And that’s okay. If I feel crap, I will not dance. If I feel great, I will dance. It’s that simple for me.

> Traveling: I want to travel so much. Right now, I have a few other priorities that I am focusing on which means that I probably won’t be able to travel much for the next year/year and a half. That’s okay. I should not be judging myself for that. Nonetheless, I see all my friends traveling so much, and I’m thinking to myself…have I made the wrong decision? Should I be travelling now? This led to a lot of sadness. I felt so down. I spoke to my boyfriend and he pretty much counselled me. He made me talk through what my priorities in life right now are, and why. I came to realise how much I want to travel and learn. Right now I am not in the mental nor financial position to travel around the world. And that’s okay. If I keep progressing through life the way I am, I will eventually get to a point where I will be able to travel. I just need to take it at my own pace.

It has really helped me get off my chest some of my biggest insecurities. I am working on making peace with it. I am working on acknowledging that most of these insecurities come from comparing myself to others. So yes, there is a lot of work for me to do. But cheers to my first step.

I would recommend that if you have insecurities, you start acknowledging it and making peace with it as well. Write it down on a piece of paper at least. Figure out why you have this insecurity and how you are going to come to terms with it. Simple things like this go a long way.

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My Morning Routine – For Increased Productivity

How well your day is going to go is very much determined by how you start your day.

My mother instilled this value into me ever since the day I remember. Therefore, I give a lot of importance to how I start my day. I really enjoy having a calm and relaxed morning. This sets the manner in which I am going to progress for the next 24 hours. For example, when I have a rushed morning, the rest of the day naturally becomes stressful and I lack motivation to complete anything. When I have a calm and productive morning, the rest of the day develops onwards and upwards!

Firstly, with my usually busy schedule of trying to balance medicine, dance and blogging commitments equally throughout the day, being organized and productive is of utmost importance to me; as a result, I like to use my mornings to plan what I need to get through for the rest of the day. Secondly, I struggle to find me-time during the day, so my mornings are the perfect time for me to really enjoy my own company and spend time with myself, and only myself.

I am going to now go into more depth about what I do in the mornings, especially as many people have asked me how I manage to balance everything and what helps with my productivity.

1) I wake up at least an hour before I have to leave for work. For example, if I need to leave at 8am, I wake up at 7am, the latest.

2) The moment I get out of bed, I make my bed. This may sound like a unimportant thing. Remember, however, that it is a task. This is the first task I perform for the day, and it is already one which helps to keep my room look and feel clutter feel. When my room looks and feels this way, I already feel more positive.

3) I then brush my teeth, shower and get ready. I usually plan my outfit the night before, so I do not need to stress out in the morning, and the process of getting ready is a lot faster as a result.

4) Once I am ready, I go straight to the kitchen to make myself a cup of tea. Whilst the kettle is boiling, I make sure to drink a glass of water and eat a fruit of some sort (bananas are my favourite!) – what you eat for the rest of day is also determined by what you eat in the morning, so remember to eat healthily. By this point, the kettle has boiled and I can make my tea.

5) With my tea, I go to my room/living room and open my diary to check what I have to do for the day. I edit my things-to-do list as necessary, either in my diary or my phone. I personally like to have a physical diary. You may call me old school, but it actually does help when I am able to physically write my commitments, things-to-do and deadlines. I use my phone to compliment my paper diary but I have learnt not to rely on my phone as much as I once did.

6) Once I have gone through my to-do list, I am mentally prepared for the rest of the day and know exactly what I need to achieve.

7) After this, I pick up the recent book that I am reading, I sit down and read for around 20 to 30 minutes. This time is crucial for me; and it is the only time I get during the day to read. It is my form of meditation. I forget about everything and immerse myself into the world created for me by the book.

8) Once I have had my reading session, I am nearly ready to take-on the rest of the day. All I have left to do is pack my lunch (if I am taking lunch to work), water bottle and bag. I prepare my lunch the night before in my lunch box and leave it in the fridge so I do not have to worry about it in the morning. The same applies for my water bottle and bag. This then means that I actually do not have much else to do before I leave for work.

9) Finally, with everything ready now, I just put my jacket on, take my bag and am ready for the day!

As you can probably see, I plan the order of even the smallest of things for my morning. When my morning goes smoothly, I genuinely have a lot more motivation and drive to get through all my tasks and jobs for the day. My mind is in the correct place as well to face anything the day is to bring.

A large part of my morning routine involves me being organized the night before. These changes will not happen overnight. It has taken me years of conditioning to ensure my mornings go according to my plan. Everyone’s priorities for their morning routine may be different, so I do not expect everyone to follow this. My point is, having a focused and detailed morning routine will set the tone for the rest of the day, so do not neglect your mornings!

Hope you found this useful. Please feel free to share your morning routines. Would love to hear what you guys do!

Praveena x

Alive, Well, Happy & Grateful

It has been quite a while since I blogged. I have been so busy with medicine and dance which has meant that finding the time to sit down have time for myself to reflect on my life and thoughts has been a lot more difficult. However, I am back, and I have a few things I would like to talk about.

Firstly, ‘work’. I say this in inverted commas because I seriously do not see medicine as work. It is my passion. I am grateful that I can say this. I love waking up in the mornings, I look forward to Mondays and do feel sad when Fridays come. Yes, I am a very bizarre human being! I was never that ‘perfect’ medical student. Truthfully, I did not enjoy being a medical student as much as I enjoy being a Doctor. I feel so purposeful now and I realize how worth-it all those years of hardship were. I am still clueless most of the time, and I have several moments when I have to turn to my colleagues and the amazing nursing staff to help me out. I have even experienced moments where I was so near to tears in the middle of the ward. Nonetheless, this is what being a Doctor is all about – LEARNING and GROWING, not just as a Doctor but as a human being. I am so much more driven to be a good Doctor, seeing first-hand and working with some amazing ones. Ultimately, it is not easy at all and most of the time I have no idea what I am doing; but the key here is, I am doing my best and turning to someone for support when I need to. This is just the beginning of my medical career. I have so much more learning to do, so many more exams to sit, but for now I am enjoying every moment of my medical career however pain-staking and stressful it gets.

Secondly, dance. I do not think many people believe me when I say I have dance rehearsals pretty much every day of the week. Well I do! If I am not doing anything medicine related, I am doing something dance related. This could include working on dance shows, wedding choreography or own projects. Currently I am focusing on the former two. I do not want to say much about it now but do trust me when I say I am busy with dance rehearsals.

Last but not least, YouTube. Now this is one I have wanted to have a heart-to-heart about, with you. The reason is because I have not been amazing with staying on top of YouTube. This year I set myself a goal of wanting to be more active with producing YouTube videos – dance videos, tutorials, discussions. However, I have only managed to release on dance video and two discussion videos about dance. I have been meaning to film another video but I have not had the motivation to film it. I am not going to make any soppy excuses here. I would like to be open and honest. I did want to try YouTube and I am glad I did, but, is it for me? Unfortunately not; well not now anyway. I wanted to give YouTube a go and I am glad I did; I got such a wonderful response to my videos. So many of you were very encouraging and spreading so much positivity which made me feel very grateful. YouTube, however, takes a lot of commitment and time. At this point in my life, with my medical career, dance shows/projects, wedding choreography business, I am struggling to find the perfect time to film and release good-quality content. Therefore, for the time being, I am going to pause with my YouTube videos. I do not want to promise that I will be back on YouTube; I will try my best to produce content in the future if time and circumstances permit. I will blog about the topics I wanted to create videos on, so keep your eyes peeled.

I would like to thank everyone for your patience with me. I believe that I do not need to post constantly on social media to prove that I am doing something purposeful/useful, which is why it may seem like I have gone very quiet…but folks, I am alive, well, happy and grateful!

Lots of love,
Praveena

PS: Feel free to message me if you have any questions about medicine, dance, blogging, YouTube, or anything really. Would love to hear from you!

Western Thirumanam Song Selections

Hey all,

Hope you are well.

I am just about recovering from being quite ill for the past few days, but I have not forgotten the promise I made you all.

Many praised my track selections for the Western Thirumanam fashion show, for which I choreographed. I promised to give you the list of the tracks so here goes. All the tracks (a couple of which were selected by the Western Thirumanam team) are in no particular order. I have attached the youtube links as well.

Hope you find it useful.

• VGo Silsila Yeh Chahat – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvocbGud808
• Kadhal Yogi – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_wqHsSIyKg
• VGo Albela Sajan – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QoA56k2k1Wo
• Yevvana – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bt8V7WlJnHg
• GrooveDEV Chaiya Chaiya – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWrQD8Tf4ZA
• Dr Srimix Mere Samne Yaarumilla – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xqj6ri9Ll0Q
• VGo Aayat – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxm439etfDk
• Shadow Entertainment Mudhalvane – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Csay8HzFk9I
• Dr Srimix Ancient Indian Summer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9R8zIbgnAw
• Mental Manathil (female) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nx_OQUkjsHM
• Uyire – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dE5SLY5tKEc
• Kaal Mulaitha Poove – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcdbM-lgTOs
• Dr Srimix All the way up – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1wq0DtYDg_c
• Sketch Theme (Promo) song – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiMUX8_Qbks
• Pothai Nirathai Thaa – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMxTPmNaFqM
• Zack Knight Bom Diggy – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lEgTtQFMjWw
• Lovely – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HT7g_9eNnYk
• VGo En Veetu Broccoli – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H65nitaREbY
• Vidya Vox Tamil Born Killa – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=prpFIbl2ZQo
• Ladio – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrZ0rZjtm-4
• Anbil Avan – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5uSwo-gwok
• Ammaye Sannaga – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHGISypQnYQ
• Benny Dayal Tamil Fever – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVYQOW2CIDw
• Bairavaa BGM – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5BuFUIohHM

Enjoy listening and dancing away folks!!

How I deal with my mistakes and failures

I took part at The Bhangra Showdown 2018 on Saturday 3rd February 2018, which took place at the Genting Arena, NEC, in Birmingham. This explains why I have been so quiet on all social media platforms; having to balance studies and full time Bhangra training is extremely tough.

Now those who follow me closely, will be probably remember that Kings of Gaana 2017 was meant to be my last official university dance competition. This is partly right. I was very much done with the university dance competitions. However, over the Christmas holidays, I got a phone call from my ex-jodi/captain who explained to me how they have had one female dancer dropout and would love to have me join the team from mid-January onwards. Something made me say yes straightaway. I have always known how strenuous Bhangra training is, yet I do love it so I said yes.

I had around 2 weeks to learn the routine, formations and get my stamina up to a performance level. Challenge accepted.

Some may be thinking, why would I go into the Bhangra competition scene again after having such a successful year in 2017 at The Bhangra Showdown. Well, my success should not be measured by my achievements. Instead my success should be measured by my journey and experiences, which ultimately contribute to my growth. I did not want my ego to take over. Every year I do Bhangra, I learn something new technically or culturally. Why would I want to stop that process of learning merely because of two trophies myself and the team received last year?

Looking back at the past 2 weeks, they have been the most stimulating, challenging and demanding two weeks, physically and mentally. However, I could not have asked for a better opportunity to grow, learn about myself and meet genuine life-long friends.

Our university has had an extremely successful year for the past 6/7 years – either placing 1st or 2nd. This year was definitely not one of them. We did not win, but most upsetting was that we did not even place. Our team not placing did not hurt me as much to be honest, because I always tell myself everything happens for a reason. However, what was bugging me for some time was whether I was responsible for it. The captain, co-captain and I were responsible for setting up markers on stage for the performance. Long story short, we messed up. The stage dimensions we had set up were a lot bigger than those that we had practiced on. This meant that throughout the performance we were travelling a lot further across stage which ultimately had a knock on effect on our energy levels.

The old me would have cried and sulked about this and I would have held myself responsible for the rest of my life. Such a way of dealing with mistakes and failure is not the right way at all.

I am now wiser. Therefore, my approach to this situation was a whole lot different. I told myself the following:

• These things happen on stage and it is unavoidable. I tried my best there and then to rectify the situation to the best of my ability.

• I am a performer, the number of competitions and performances I have done; the number of mistakes I have made – none of this stopped me from recognising my potential as a dancer, so why should this isolated situation do that?

• We practiced stage set-up numerous times and nothing of the sort happened before, so it happening on the night of our performance was just a bit of a shock to the system but it made me realise that this is what performing is all about.

• The reality of performing really hit me. Therefore, next time I do perform I will make sure to fight back stronger and trust me any mistakes I have made will never happen again. This is a promise I make to myself.

• The mistake, our failure as a team, does not make me or my team bad dancers at all. In fact, looking back at how much this team has gone through, I do not think the UK has seen an emotionally or physically stronger team before, and trust me on that because it is my 7th university dance competition team I have been part of.

What have a learnt about myself?

1. I have grown mentally and physically. My perspective of my mistakes and failures is more positive. I see the opportunity and potential for growth in each of these events. This is an ultimate reflection of my spiritual growth. I love it, and I feel so much more awakened.

2. People may be judging me – ‘Praveena is a perfectionist and performer, so how could she make such mistakes?’ Well, believe it or not folks, I am human which means I am allowed to make mistakes as any other human is. I have no need to judge myself based on others’ judgments. I used to be a perfectionist, but I realised that perfectionism is not good for my well-being and it restricted me from opening my mind to the realities of life.

3. My mistakes do not define me. How I deal with and grow from my mistakes is what defines me. I promise myself that I will not make, or let anyone make such a mistake like this ever again.

4. I have the mental and physical strength to learnt strenuous routines in such a short space of time. I never thought I could get on stage with very little training time, but I realised that I actually could – this achievement is more precious to me than any win, trophy or accolade.

I am a strong human being. The competition is done now, so I can fully focus on dedicating my passion for dance to myself, all of you and most importantly to God.

Finding Myself

It has been a while since I sat down to write. This is because I have genuinely had little time to sit down and enjoy a cup of tea, let alone read, write or hula hoop! (Yes hula hooping is super important to me).

I have had to juggle a lot over the past 5 to 6 weeks – managing the work load, midwife shifts and on-calls of my Obstetrics and Gynaecology rotation; choreographing for the Kings of Gaana (KoG) dance competition; finding time to choreograph and practice for my first ever dance video shoot in collaboration with another dancer; choreographing and coordinating dance rehearsals for 2 dances for a wedding show (which got cancelled a day before due to unforeseen circumstances – regardless, a lot of time, effort and concentration went into putting those pieces together so I still count it as something).

Long story short, I pushed myself to the limits: mentally, physically and emotionally. Nonetheless, I enjoyed myself. Looking back it was all worth it because I have grown.

There is a really nice quote which says, ‘Push yourself to the edge of your limits. That’s how they expand.’ This defines me very nicely. I do not like settling for a simple life. I like pushing myself to my limits. Just when I think I have done the most I can do, there is more I want to achieve and have the energy to do. I am going to be truthful though, the past 6 weeks have drained me and I will probably need a week or two to unwind and re-energise but that is fine, normal and I do not feel guilty about it.

I wanted to use this time to get back on track with my reading, writing and hula hooping, so that’s exactly what I am doing. I am currently sat on my bed, in my mismatching pyjamas with a nice warm cup of tea writing what you are reading. Life is bliss.

Now that I have summarised my life over the past 5-6 weeks, it is time to bring my mind back on track as to what got me to write again today. Well since KoG came to an end, I have had a lot of time to think about what made me fall in love with dance. I have had a lot of time to think about why I love performing. Honestly, I have not always been so in love with performing. I used to be so lazy and Tamil politics at dance class made me fed up of performing. Things, however, started to change halfway through university and it was because of Bhangra.

‘Oh here she goes again…this girl has nothing better to talk about than Bhangra!?’ Trust me I know this is exactly what you are thinking now. My family and friends think the same as well – they do not have to say it, I can just gage.

For the outside world, Bhangra is something I have done for 3 years – all fun and games, what is so emotionally engaging about that?

Well, let me set things straight, Bhangra is something which I started 5 years ago. Long story short, I got onto the Bhangra team in my first year of university but fractured my foot which meant I could not dance on the team. This fracture however stopped me from dancing at all for a whole year. I became very anxious about restarting dance because of the fear that I may injure myself again. In my 3rd year of university I decided to audition for the Bhangra team again. The reasons I have never properly discussed with anyone. Well here goes…

I was in an emotionally dark place in 3rd year. I felt useless and I felt like I was not achieving much in life. Studying medicine at university was clearly not enough for me (you may call me greedy – but I would like to call myself constantly hungry for opportunities). I needed more. I wanted to be defined for more of my hard work and achievements. I wanted a build a name for myself. I was so conflicted emotionally, during which I made the sudden decision of auditioning for the Bhangra team again. I did not tell anyone at the time I auditioned, not my family nor my friends. I made this decision for myself and acted upon it. I literally walked into those auditions in my placement trousers and top (shows how clearly I had planned this out!). At the point I auditioned, I had not done Bhangra since I fractured my foot, which had been 2 years at the time. Somehow my rusty Bhangra moves got me onto the team and ever since I have not looked back.

It’s a very simple message that I am trying to convey here guys. I am emotionally attached to Bhangra. Every time I hear Punjabi music, my heart warms up. Whenever I am at a Tamil party, and the DJ plays that one-off Punjabi tune I feel like my true self comes out. Why? It is not because I am an undercover Punjabi (although many think I am). It is because Bhangra made me fall in love with dance again, and made me fall in love with myself once and for all. Bhangra helped me get out the emotionally dark place I was in and gave me the confidence to pursue whatever I dreamed off. I learned to stand on my own two feet and most importantly I discovered my ability to push my limits in all realms of life.

Thanks to Bhangra, I have learned to not settle. I want to build a name for myself which is defined by my hard work and drive to go further in life.

‘You are so pretty, you can become an actress’

Recently on Instagram, whilst I was browsing through my explore page, I came across a beautiful picture of a girl. Honestly, she was breath-taking and in my opinion drop dead gorgeous. What, however, concerned me massively and drove me to write this blog was one of the comments which were left on this photo – ‘you can become an actress’. For you information, the girl in the picture is not an actress and has no background in the field of drama.

I do not have much experience in the field of drama however I did complete a GCSE in Drama, and of the 13 GCSEs I sat, Drama was the one which challenged me the most. My two assessed pieces tested me in different ways. One was a play in which I had to play a 30 year old who was playing an 8 year old; basically it was a play within a play, so I had two folds of characterisations that I had to master. The second was where I had to play a teenage girl with Body Dysmorphic Disorder and how this condition escalated to psychosis which ultimately tipped her off the edge.

In addition to my own drama experience, one of my friends is a final year drama student at university and her aim is to eventually become a professional actress. I thought it would be useful for you to see how much it takes to build an acting career, whether it be part-time or full-time. She described to me how competitive the industry is and her plans for the next few years is to go to a drama school or do a Masters in Acting or get an internship somewhere, but go to acting classes on the side to hone her acting skills. She is not even sure whether she will definitely get into drama school, and on top of that she needs to get signed by an agency. It is then through her agent that she can get actual auditions and castings. This is just a summary of what she needs to achieve in the next few years in order to get one step closer to becoming an actress.

So why am I telling you all of this? Well because acting is extremely hard. Calling oneself an actor/actress is not something which happens overnight, it happens with years of training and hard work, just as with any performance art like dance or music.

Now if I talk more specifically about the South Asian film Industry, acting has become so much about girls in particular being eye-candy. This explains why the general public are also of the opinion that the Indian film industry requires good looks more than good acting skills. I personally feel it is absolutely disgusting that women are objectified to such an extent.

There are so many people at fault for the state of the Indian Film Industry, and I am not here to discuss these wider issues. All I want to say is that it is such a shame that so many individuals in westernised cultures are also falling victim to this objectification of actors and actresses (more so actresses of course).

I wanted to leave every girl and guy who aspires to be an actress or actor with one challenge. The day you strip of all your make up and style, and convince an audience that you can play characters ranging from 8 year olds all the way to 80 year olds, is when you really start showcasing your potential to act. 80% of your ability to pull off a character comes from your ability to act. The remaining 20% comes from additional factors such as: make-up, lighting, set design, camera angles, etc.

Next time you call yourself an actress or actor, really think about whether you are an actress/actor or whether you just have a passion for acting. They are two very different things!

Oh and for the general public, because I think we are all responsible for the state of the Indian film industry objectifying people, we need to stop falling victim to such daft mind-sets which are infecting the generations to come and their perception of an acting career, which I highly respect if done correctly.

Life as a Wedding Choreographer

My life as an official Wedding Choreographer started very recently.

I made the announcement on the 14th of June 2017, so today marks my new venture’s 3 month anniversary – what a journey it has been so far.

This blog is about what brought me into the realm of wedding choreography. I have then described my experiences, since June 2017, as an official Wedding Choreographer.

Life before Wedding Choreography

Before I got into Wedding Choreography, I danced for pre-wedding celebrations, weddings and wedding receptions of family and friends. I had several opportunities over the past 3 years to also choreograph for bridal fashion-shows in and outside of university. Both these opportunities made me fall in love with the wedding environment and mood that much more.

Life as a Wedding Choreographer

Since the official announcement, I have been involved with 3 weddings. Three weddings might not seem like a lot, but with the amount of time put into each with pre-planning and rehearsals means that each wedding dance can take weeks to prepare for. For this reason, I am going to discuss my experiences of each from start to finish, and how the final outcome shaped up.

Client 1 – Vanathy and Pratheepan – June 2017

DISCLAIMER – I am calling Vanathy a client for professional reasons, but let me explain that she is one my closest friends. She will literally kill me after reading this so I am attempting to protect myself now. (See below)

Vanathy has been one of my good friends since I was a teenager. She is a dancer herself and I met her through Bharathanatyam lessons. I do not want to start on the number of duos we have performed together on stage. She is definitely one of my most fun dance partners and what is more is that I literally have always seen her as my older sister.

Therefore when she decided that she wanted to dance for both her bridal entrances of her Hindu ceremony I was not surprised. My cousin and I, with Vanathy’s input of course, did the choreography together. It is definitely something very new for me and something which I have not often seen being done.

Vanathy decided on both her bridal entrances songs. The Manavarei saree entrance was to Ore Or Ooril, from Baahubali 2; the koorai saree entrance was to a religious stuthi (chant) about Lord Shiva – Suvarnamaalastuthi.

The fact that all three of us have known each other dance styles for years now meant that the choreography process was actually very straight forward. We sat down a week before the wedding, listened to songs and started the choreography process. It was a team effort for sure and that is what made it that much more fun. We all chipped in ideas and came up with the final product.

The main challenges faced was that Vanathy wanted to dance for her Manavarai Saree entrance. Why this was a challenge was because people should not think it is cheesy/cringey when the Bride dances down the aisle. Therefore, we had to ensure the choreography was simple, cultured and elegant, to reflect the atmosphere of the wedding which was very classy indeed. And of course, her Manavarei saree entrance was to a very royal song, so the choreography had to reflect this royalty.

Vanathy chose the second song, in praise of Lord Shiva. Her mum and Vanathy decided that the Koorai entrance should be to a religious song rather than to a movie-based song. Everyone loved this entrance and enjoyed the mood of the song in line with the entrance.

I loved being one of the choreographers for Vanathy’s bridal entrances. It was unique and my first experience of choreographing for Bridal entrances. I think it is fair to say that overall the bridal entrances were a massive hit and created waves across social media, which we were all very surprised yet grateful about.

Bridal entrances are a very special and exciting moment for the Bride, Groom and the rest of the family and friends attending the wedding. I hope more Brides will be brave enough to experiment with their Bridal entrances, because I believe it is something they will cherish for the rest of their lives.

Client 2 – Annaniya and Sai – August 2017

I was approached by Sai’s sister in June enquiring about wedding choreography. At the time I did know that it was for her brother and sister-in-law that she was enquiring about. Then she told me that she wanted to get first dance lessons from me, as a gift for them, which I found incredibly adorable.

After the booking was confirmed with the sister, Annaniya got in touch with me. When I asked her about what their vision was for their first dance, they knew that they wanted a traditional slow first dance to begin with and then a transition into a more funky segment with elements of Tamil music.

My initial role was to create a playlist of possible songs. The list was not set in stone. It was more a starting point for them. They could obviously have chosen from those songs, but my idea was that it would give them some inspiration as to what songs to choose, so below are the songs they finalised:

Perfect by Ed Sheeran
Drake – Controlla (90’s Tamil Medley) – Mashup cover by Inno Genga

They had chosen two very different styles of songs which obviously made it that much more of a unique experience for me as a choreographer. They were extremely focused and really wanted to make this first dance a special one. I gave them a lot of leeway to make the dance their own. They wanted lifts, spins and slow dance elements which were all incorporated, but ultimately I told them, what I teach them is a guidance and if they want to add or take anything away, that is entirely their choice and I will help them master the changes. They enjoyed the original choreography I taught them and stuck by and their dedication shone through: within 2 hours of rehearsals, they had mastered the routine.

Client 2 – Deanusa’s Brother’s reception family dance – September 2017

Deanusa is actually my first official client because she contacted me about choreographing a family dance for her and her friends, for her brother’s wedding reception, even before I made my official announcement as a Wedding Choreographer. However, I ranked my clients in order of the event dates hence she is ranked as my most recent one.

I found working with Deanusa and her friends a very interesting and fun experience. They knew exactly what they wanted and gave me a list of songs with the timings and the order in which they wanted it to feature in the final mix.

My initial responsibility was actually to listen to all the songs and gage an understanding of the whole mood of what they wanted for their performance. I then made a few suggestions about other songs they could consider as well which they gladly took into consideration.

When the final set of songs were confirmed, I started working on the mix – yes I can make basic mixes on my own, and am gradually improving my ability to do so. After the mix was confirmed, we commenced on rehearsals. Below are the songs they danced to:

Desingu Raja from Thavasi
Jallakku Jallakku from Endrendrum Kadhal
Chottu Chottu from Taj Mahal
Rasika from Star
Pinga from Bajirao Mastani
Radhai Manathil from Snehithiye
Chinna Nam Veetukku from Poovellam Un Vaasam

I had to spend the first rehearsal teaching them a simple choreography from their routine. I used this time to gage their dancing skill level. Based on this I then shaped the rest of the choreography. I ultimately wanted the girls to feel comfortable and enjoy the dance piece they were going to perform, which they did feel very much.

Even though I did all the choreography, the girls had their own input. If they wanted certain things in the choreography for example using props, they let me know and I would change it up to suit their needs accordingly. Ultimately, client satisfaction is key. It is their event, it is their dance, so the choreography needs to reflect them.

As a business venture so far…

Unlike many other wedding businesses, I am the product of my business. I do not have materials to sell; I am selling my services as a dancer and choreographer to couples who will require it for their big day. My business model is me. I do not have products to put faith into. I have to put faith into myself and my skills as a dancer and choreographer.

Yes this can put pressure on me to utilise my skill set maximally yet efficiently. However, it gives me that much more control of the whole situation and stretches me to an extent that I can learn that much more.

The past three weddings I have worked on have been very different learning experiences which I have enjoyed so much for various reasons. I love what I do and I realised how much I actually love connecting with people through dance. Working with individuals who have little to no prior dance experience is where the challenge yet fun lies for me, because it pushes me to go beyond just teaching dance. It is predominantly about building a rapport which will make my clients feel comfortable to dance. The choreography does not have to be complex at all; the real success lies in giving individuals, who have never danced before, the courage to do it confidently in front of an audience which comprises of their family and friends, which I find to be the hardest audience to perform for.

What I have found most rewarding is that as a Wedding Choreographer you get to know the clients on a more personal level than just seeing them on the day. When I work with individuals who have never danced, I am bringing out something which they may not be too comfortable with – their ability to dance. It is through this process that you get to connect to a client on a personal level and build a rapport which I do not think can be brought out with several of the other wedding businesses.

Being a Wedding Choreographer is not just about choreographing and teaching. It is about guiding, motivating and of course doing a lot of pre-preparation so the couple are given a wide range of options to choose from with regards to songs, final mixes and of course choreography. Well this is how I have structured my business model because I work to give all the freedom to my clients. It is their wedding at the end of the day. I am merely there for professional guidance and support.

Three months into the business, I am proud of the opportunities which have come my way. I am happy about my clients and the responses I have got from them, and of course I am grateful about the support I have got from my friends and family.

Let’s continue this journey onwards and upwards from here.

#HustleHard

This piece is a short one.

I am back at University and I have officially started my final year as a medical student.

Just as much as I am excited, I am nervous. I need to get through this last leg before I start an infinite journey into the real world of medicine, being a doctor, and continuing as a dancer.

I am even more excited, yet nervous about my responsibility to balance my profession and passion, which reside in both medicine and dance.

So here’s to a new year of excitement, challenges and learning opportunities!

The Lone Soldier

Do you know what it feels like to feel empty?

I feel that right now. Empty. Helpless. Hopeless. Weak. Vulnerable. Useless.

It is irritating. It is irritating to know that I cannot even understand what, why and how I am feeling.

I’ve been wanting to do so much for the past few weeks and I have not done any of it. Something is stopping me.

I am not happy with something and I cannot put my finger on what it is. My ability to think creatively has been slowly declining.

I am scared to get up and dance because I’m scared that I am not good enough.

I look at all my dance videos from over the past year, and I cannot associate with that girl on stage. I feel like I am looking at someone else.

As I write this, I have tears rolling down my eyes. I don’t know why I am crying but I am. I am going to let the tears flow as long as it takes for my eyes to dry up.

It always helps me to take my mind off all of this clutter by watching a movie, so that is what I am going to do now. After which I will make myself a cup of tea, sit down with a piece of paper and make a list of things which I need to accomplish in the next 2 days.

I am writing all of this down as I think it through because this is what I have learnt over the past few weeks during which I spent time reading all sorts of spiritual and motivational books.

It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to put all my emotions down on paper. It’s okay to use all of that as a fuel to pick myself up from this emotional mess.

PS: I am not being an attention-seeking drama queen – because I know many of you may be thinking this. I am a human with emotions and insecurities which I am working to address.