Dance revolution grips Bhutanese youth

From being only a form of cultural celebration to entertainment, dance has evolved significantly in the country. Once confined to school variety shows, it has now become a dynamic form of expression. Although there is no official data, the trend is becoming popular with more people turning to dance classes. The surge is particularly visible among the younger generation embracing dancing as a means of self-expression and creativity through various social media platforms or dance competitions.

More than a decade ago, dancing was a casual affair with simple steps.

Fast forward to 2024, the country’s younger generations are embracing diverse styles such as whacking, freestyle, street dance, and robotics among others all fuelled by the internet’s influence.

For Kaya Gyeltshen of Vaders Crew, dance is becoming more than a pastime. It has opened doors to events and music video appearances and even earning opportunities that were previously unthinkable.

“My mom put me in a dancing class and after I started dancing with my crew, my interest grew in dance. A lot of artists come up with music videos and they ask us to be their dancers in music videos. So, we make choreography for them and even when it comes to shows, our crew love to perform and respect from the community is what we get from dancing.”

Thanks to Gokab, young dance enthusiasts in the country are now finding purpose and opportunities to showcase their talents through participation in both national and international dance competitions.

Founded as a platform for the Bhutanese youth, Gokab has flourished for nearly a decade, with more than 300 joining dance classes.

“We opened this studio to provide a platform for all the aspiring dancers. I would like to say it’s never too late for those people who are interested in dancing irrespective of all the age groups,” said Namgay Wangchuk, Gokab’s CEO.

“I see a lot of opportunities, especially in competitions. Dancing has allowed me to travel to Nepal in 2018 for a dance competition through Gokab,” said Jurmi Dorji from DDT Boys.

“In my early days, I found comfort in dancing as it helped me cope with my emotions. Dance not only brings recognition and popularity but also provides valuable exposure,” said  Ugyen Choeda from DWD Boys.

While dancing has helped create identities for the dancers, some say that pursuing it as a career in the country poses challenges owing to its financial limitations and family support.

“Dancing can be tough, especially freestyle which takes about two to three months to master because of its technicality and complexity. However, my family doesn’t always support me saying that we do not get anything from it,” added Jurmi Dorji.

“We don’t get a good platform in the country. Moreover, there’s no scope for dancing and thus we cannot take it as a career,’’ added Ugyen Choeda.

For now, young aspiring dancers in the country may not have reached the stars but their efforts are definitely landing them on the moon.

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