Setting stage on fire!
V-Unbeatable, the dance group from the slums of Mumbai, received a standing ovation for their electrifying performance from the judges of ‘America Got...
From nooks and corners of slums to getting a standing ovation from the judges of 'America's Got Talent' (AGT) – Mumbai-based dance group V-Unbeatable has surely come a long way. The 35-member dance troop faced many problems; however, they have risen against adversity and are shining like a bright star. The 28 members, who performed at AGT chanted Ganpati Bappa Morya before kick-starting their performance and danced on the song 'Malhari' from the film 'Bajirao Mastani'. Their eclectic performance and astonishing flips during their dance routine left the judges amazed and they were got emotional after listening to their struggles V- Unbeatable.
Om Prakash, the head of the dance group, shared his experiences in a freewheeling chat.
Excerpts from an interview:
Tell us about your journey as a dancer.
We were selected in 'Dance Plus 4' and before we got the opportunity to perform on such a big platform our lives were very different. We live in slums and most of us in the group live in a one-room shelter. We are glad that we got a platform where we got an opportunity to work with 'ABCD 3' team. The next sequel of the film is based on our life story. With the help of 'Dance Plus 4', we got an opportunity to perform at 'America's Got Talent', which made us feel very happy. We are getting messages from an international platform which is a very big thing for us.
Talk about the challenges that you have faced.
We have struggled a lot in life. It was very difficult to reach this level. Every aspect of our journey was filled with adversities. For example, finding a place to practice, making sure taking everybody to auditions on our shoestring budget and managing the group was definitely a challenge. I would never sleep during the night. I used to watch videos to learn new things so that I could practice them and perform. We asked people for help, but they seldom helped. We knew that we had the talent and we had faith in our talent, and we are lucky enough to perform on a big platform such as 'America's Got Talent'. Every child in our group is so talented that no one can stop us to reach the level we are in right now.
What part of Mumbai do you all belong to?
We hail from Naigaon in Mumbai. Our members are 12-26 age group and a few of them study in school and college.
Where do you rehearse?
We usually rehearse in parks and gardens in the place where we live, and we also have a temple which has a hall. We asked the trust members of the temple to give us the hall for rehearsals for two to three hours and we even told that we would pay the rent, however, they refused to take a fee from us and gave is the place for free. For this I will pay full credits to my friend Swapnal, who has requested for the hall, if we have reached this level, I could say that he is also a part of it. People who owned the hall also deserve the same credit, because when we used to practice in the park or garden there were times when the watchmen used to ask us to leave the place, sometimes when we used to practice on the road police and people would object. It was difficult to find a place when we have the talent and desire to reach a certain level, we struggled a lot as a group. I am very thankful to the people who allotted us the hall and I will never forget that hall ever in my life.
How do you manage to practice?
I work during the day. I quit my studies and started working. Before practice, I ask the children about their exam schedules at school and also their school timing so that I can schedule the practice accordingly.
You have a lot of stunts in the dance. How tough it is to practice them?
It is tough and very difficult. There's a lot of risks involved when we perform these stunts. When we are practising them, we are very keen on timings as it can cause accidents. As we performed our first song 'Malhari' on AGT we set timings for all the lifts that we do in the dance performance, even if one lift is missed there is a chance for a person to die while doing these lifts. We take around 10 days to set a stunt in our performance and I am very lucky to get these children who never back out from the stunts. We also have a doctor to attend to us if any mishap occurs during the practice.
Tell us the story behind naming the group V- Unbeatable.
Initially, we named our team as 'Unbeatable' and changed it V-Unbeatable after losing a friend of ours Vikas in an accident. Whenever we perform Vikas' name is written on our costumes.