Skip to content

US ‘Bad Boys’ make Mumbai street kids dance to their tune

March 19, 2012

They jostled for space, pushed each other, nudged, at times stomped on one another’s feet, gasped for breath, wiped their sweaty brows, shared laughs and also giggled – all this as the kids shook their legs with much aplomb.

More than two dozen street children danced their hearts out for nearly two hours at a workshop in a school, in Mumbai’s north-west suburb Bandra, by the internationally acclaimed dance troupe from the US the ‘Bad Boys of Dance’ while they were touring India in the last fortnight.

“They need to express themselves. Dancing helps them to release their pent-up emotions,” said Joseph, brother-in-charge at the Home for underprivileged children at St. Catherine School of Siena.

The Bad Boys of Dance, founded by dance superstar Rasta Thomas in 2007, have performed on Broadway, featured in films, given over 150 shows and have performed for over 500,000 fans worldwide. Adored by millions on hit television shows like “Dancing with the Stars” the troupe is best known to be athletic, entertaining and fun. Crisscrossing the country, a part of their world tour, they were enthralling their fans with hit shows such as “Rock the Ballet” and “Tap Stars”.

“If their energies are not utilised in the right direction street children resort to street fights and brawls,” Brother Joseph added.

The street kids, comprising over 25 boys and girls aged between nine and 22 years, have been training in dance lessons as part of the school’s initiative to groom underprivileged children in the performing arts.

The workshop with the American dance troupe, organised by the US Consulate, Mumbai and well-known Bollywood dance choreographer Terence Lewis’s contemporary dance company ‘Happy Feet’, was one in a series of their training sessions.

According to UNICEF there are about 18 million street children in the country, of which a large number are in Mumbai city who live in the open without a roof above their heads sleeping on pavements, railway platforms or hutments. They are left alone to fend for themselves at a very young age because they are either orphans, have very poor parents who cannot afford to feed them or they have run away from their families in the villages to the city as a result of physical exploitation and poverty.

Homeless and no one to call their own they are the most vulnerable section in society falling prey to crime, prostitution and drug addiction. Girls especially are subjected to sexual abuse according to a survey by the department of women and child development in India.

Globally the country may be seen as making rapid strides in economic growth, however, gaunt and hungry street children are a common sight begging at traffic signals, picking trash by the roadside, and sleeping on pavements and railway platforms.

Despite all odds their energy to jig and the desire to learn makes them for some of the best performers.

A life-size poster of the King of Pop Michael Jackson stared down from the wall as the young boys and girls already familiar with some dance forms such as Indian classical, folk, hip-hop and contemporary took to the floor instantly as the music blared to high decibels.

The kids put their best foot forward emulating the three instructors —  David Lorenzo, started with a brief introduction, Henry Rivera, took off with a series of warm-up exercises essential before dancing, and Michael Keefe got them grooving with some robust moves.

“Look straight, hands keep them strong, kick the leg…” Keefe called out.  Further demonstrating he said: “Turn and turn and raise your hand… your leg pointing ahead… Clap. Put your hands down, snap your fingers and stop…”

Tiny tots in the front row watched their steps in the reflection of the wall-sized mirrors facing them nimbly imitated the Bad Boys as they fused bits of jazz, ballet and contemporary styles to make a wonderful piece of performance. Sweating and gasping for breath they would run near the air-conditioner for a brief breeze of cool air and run back to the floor to throw their hands up and kick their legs as the dance room resounded with popular music in the background.

“It’s wonderful. I’m enjoying…”, said Devita, a young dancer in her teens, brimming with enthusiasm as she stopped to wipe off sweat dripping from her face during the dancing session.

The rest turned, twisted, thumped their foot in tune with Rivera’s footwork and Lorenzo’s new steps – he taught them to strike a ballet pose with absolute élan.


Photos courtesy: The US Consulate, Mumbai. _____________________________________________________________________________

From → Uncategorized

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: