The sheer number of artists from Odisha who are making a mark at various national and international talent competitions in the last few years, is testimony to the rich talent that the state treasures. As Odia artists are consistently making their presence felt across international platforms, three young men from Puri, Adarsh Mishra, Abinash Sahoo and Bishnu Mohanty, all members of ‘Android Crew’, have made the state proud having been selected for the prestigious world dance championship, ‘Keep on Dancing’.
As the three boys outshine contestants from the rest of India and qualify for the next round to be held amongst the Asian participants, My City Links talks to them to find out about their challenging journey.
Adarsh Mishra is still a student yet he shoulders the responsibility of his family, being the eldest son. Hailing from a middle-class background, focusing on studies was the only important objective in his life. But he always eager to try out a new step, whenever he could, having literally picked up dancing from the television set at home!
But it was only after he joined an engineering college that he discovered his latent dancing talent. “From there on,” he says, “I tried participating in many stage shows and received good response from the audience. Then in 2013, I met Asutosh Sahu during a programme and both of us decided to form a dancing crew in the city. So we started a workshop especially for the kids interested in hip hop dance form. Since then, both of us have travelled to different countries to attend similar workshops and gather experience from famous dancers across the world. But, a lot of times we did not understand their dance forms so we would come back and practice the steps from the uploaded videos of these popular dancers.”
Although the duo started the workshop, they could not run it on a regular basis for long as they had trouble managing time and getting adequate funds. Adarsh says, “I had to devote most of my time to my studies and also we had to practice dance without the knowledge of our parents. So, we could not even ask them for any financial support. But despite all the obstacles, we would keep practicing and also participate in as many dance shows and competitions.”
When they came to know that the ‘Keep On Dancing’ team was coming to India, they began preparing for it. Later in Delhi, they competed with participants from 23 states in hip hop dance form. They faced the team from Chennai in the final rounds before they qualified for the all- Asia round.
“It was like a dream come true for me. Performing on such a platform is the biggest honour for a dancer. I am determined to do well there regardless of any obstacles,” adds Adarsh. After having proven their mettle to qualify for performing on such a stage, Adarsh says that their parents too have started supporting them now and both Adarsh and Abinash are very happy about it.
To this, Abinash adds, “I was always interested in dance, but my family pressurised me to focus on studies. Most of the time, I had to ignore my interest in dance. But I would not miss a chance of performing on stage during my school and college years. It was during a show that I met Adarsh who was my senior in college. We found out that both of us shared similar interests, and thus, initiated a crew for hip hop dance in Puri.”
Eager to learn and teach dance, though both Adarsh and Abinash formed the crew, due to lack of proper infrastructure, resources and financial support, the crew could not stick around for long. “In 2015, when some of our crew members including Adarsh and me participated in an audition for hip hop world championship held at IIT, Bhubaneswar, we were selected for the Mumbai auditions. But we could not make it to the next level as it was held outside the country and we could not fund the trip,” says Abinash.
“So, in the year 2016, we decided to take our passion for dance more seriously, and formed a new crew called ‘Android Crew’. We not only prepared ourselves financially, but also practiced to become technically sound in our dancing skills. Fortunately, we have been able to make it to the Asia round for ‘Keep on Dancing’,” he further informs.
Charting a similar journey to make it to the biggest platform of dance in the world in the face of all impediments, 23-year-old Bishnu Mohanty is the third member of the dancing trio. Youngest child of his parents, Bishnu’s humble background has been an obstacle for him even in completing his education. Spending money on pursuing dance was a distant dream for this lad. He, instead, spent more time looking after their family business of selling shells and conches with his elder brother at his sea side shop in Puri. Nonetheless, his interest in dance never faded even as he remained busy in making a livelihood for his family.
“My brother was aware of my interest in dancing and always encouraged me to practice. It was because of his support; I was able to manage time for dance. But I had no aspirations of making it to a such a huge platform. I was lucky to have met Adarsh, and known about their group. I joined them and haven’t looked back since then. My only aim now is to give my best in KOD,” says Bishnu.