City dancers jive to Afro style

City dancers jive to Afro style

Members of 'Afrontal Dance Crew'.

A group of five dancers is exploring various dance forms. ‘Afrontal Dance Crew’ is the only crew which represents Afro dancehall in India. Introduction to a kind of music led to the formation of the first crew of its kind. It has completed two years and is still strong.  

Maryann Vincent, who heads the group, started practising the style, and gradually took it to others who eventually came together to form ‘Afrontal’.

How did you get to know about this style of dance?

I was introduced to dancehall music by my sister.  I loved the music and while trying to get more information on these kind of tracks, I figured there’s a dance style of this sort. Not being a famous style of dancing in India, I had nowhere to go and learn so I practised through YouTube. I later introduced it to my friend, who introduced it to another friend and the rest is history.

What inspired you the most about this style?

Our approach towards each dance style is different. People can have different kinds of views on one particular style. What we enjoyed or loved about it is the fact that afrobeat is more of a happy beat and creates a happy vibe.  

How did you come up with a crew of your own?

I introduced it to Anjaly and later, when she moved to Bengaluru, she found another dancer named Divya who got the afro groove. During the initial days of conducting workshops, we met Nivitha and took her in as she was the best among the lot. Then the last one to join was the one who lived next door, my neighbour Alisha.

Are there any advantages or disadvantages of being an all-girl crew?

I think at a certain level there may be advantages and disadvantages but I don’t think the girls and I have really dug into that. We don’t really believe in any kind of gender domination. We just strive hard towards what we want to do. We never compare ourselves with other groups.   Whether we do well or not, we focus on working hard, sometimes harder. We don’t let the negativity affect our dance. When we are together it’s a different kind of vibe.

What are the challenges you faced as dancers and looking for a career in this field?

The difficulties which we came across were taken as challenges and accounted to our advantage. Initially, nobody was ready to invest in a dance crew or pay for our transport. So we started our multi city tour, “In DA ‘FRO” where we took workshops in Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad. Our first edition had an amazing turnout. So we believe that when opportunities don’t come your way, you just need to do it yourself.

What is the motive of your crew?

‘To dance low’-- this is just a fun line we keep saying because in both the styles it requires you to stay a little grounded. A lot of leg work goes into it. The goal is to spread the afro vibe throughout India and make our crew bigger and much stronger.  

What was your family’s take on your dance career?

Parents will be parents and worrying for us is in their nature. Sometimes they are really worried where is this going to take us. However, they are very supportive, just like our friends who pushed us forward.

Does your work support you financially or do you have other ways to earn a living?

We earn through our dancing profession. There will be difficulty at times but that can be seen in any profession, irrespective of whether it is a corporate one or a creative one. We find ways to balance our interests and dance.

How are you planning on popularising this style?

We are getting international dancers to India and train us. Taking workshops and conducting classes is the way forward or else the only way available is through videos on Instagram or Facebook and getting a feedback.

Were your workshops a success?

We have taken about 20 Afro and dancehall workshops and got a great response. We co-organised international faculty, that is Blacka di danca, from New York City and moto dancers from Dubai. We really pushed ourselves because we actually didn’t expect people to know who we were. Social media did help us a lot. We got a great response.