Unity through dance

Usha Drukpa, Thimphu

Youngsters in the country are increasingly showcasing varied talents, in the form of art, performance, music sports and in many other fields. Many youth today are also embracing a passion for modern hip-hop dances.
At the age of fourteen, Sonam Norbu was so fond of dancing. He started having love for dance in the year 2003 and from there he never stopped, rather it made his passion for dance grow stronger. He participated in various dance competition and volunteered too.
Sonam Norbu has been exploring the internet and learning dance steps from music channels in television, CD’s etc.
Sonam Norbu who was an important member of Hi-Druk, Bhutan’s first dance crew and also Bhutan’s first and only Parkour-a free runner, has formed his own group, Break Vibe Crew.
When he was young, he did not have a platform to showcase his talents, Sonam said. However, now realizing the need for an opportunity, he has started giving workshop in schools and he has even planned to give similar workshop in other institutions, said Sonam Norbu.
He said that being a part of the hip-hop and dancing community of Bhutan, they have come through a lot of hardships in trying to mainstream and give it a good name. They have come from a time when the society labeled hip-hop as a nuisance, he added.
“My friends at Break Vibes Bhutan and I have been planning this for a long time and with a very positive support from one of the schools at Paro, we were finally able to kick-start our workshops” said Sonam Norbu.
He said they will be moving to schools across the country to give the same workshops in the coming months.
With internet connectivity available to everyone these days, it has become easy for the youth to get exposed to the latest trends of the world (dance included). “But what differs from looking at things being done on the screen and watching it live is the ‘feel’ you get. We want to give students that ‘feel’,”said Sonam Norbu.
He said they want to kindle inspiration in the youth to take up dance as a means of shielding themselves from all the negative practices. Besides all the health benefits, dancing help release a lot of negative emotions as well, making it a natural stress-buster.
He mentioned that this is a sort of contribution from their part in the fight against substance abuse, alcoholism and fighting. “Although we haven’t really delved into teaching all the core elements of hip-hop besides dance forms; DJing, MCing and Graffiti art; we hope to include all in the near future,” he added.
“We have been focusing in the capital only, so we thought why not try giving out a workshop in the other Dzonghkags as well,” said Sonam Norbu.
Sonam Norbu shared with The Journalist how he came up with the dance class to students of various schools. He did know that anyone in Thimphu can see youth dancing in the famous clock tower square or going for dance classes.
But later he said, he had no idea that the students in other Dzongkhags too had the same passion and interest in dance as he used to get messages and comments in the social media requesting him to teach them.
“I am so glad that the youth of today are showing so much of interest and enthusiasm towards dance,” said Sonam Norbu.
He said students love art form of dance like breaking, Parkour, krump and bone breaking.
“This was the main reason why I started giving out classes to the students of various schools other than Thimphu. This motivated me so much,” said Sonam Norbu.
Sonam shared that back at the times of his school days he was never given the chance to learn professional dancing, forget about getting dance lessons and classes.
“I believe it is same with most of the youth across the Dzongkhags. I want to give them the platform and the opportunity to come forward and do what they love to do,” said Sonam Norbu, adding this was the one reason why he thought he should teach dance to other students apart from those in Thimphu.
Initially they started with a two-hour class every Saturday but given the huge response the dance troupe had to adjust times on other days to suit the growing enthusiasts.
He said the challenges he and his group faced was to convince the Head of the School. “Initially the Principals were bit reluctant to send their students for the dance lessons.”
He also said that they were not much supportive towards their initiative. “Probably they had less idea about the art form which they thought Hip-Hop. However, after seeing the students participating, the Principal of Shari had a completely different notion about dance and personally started supporting the initiative,” said Sonam.
Sonam also said one of the biggest challenges was to convince the School Principal and the lack of space and budget. “We used our own pocket money to go with our initiative but we are looking at avenues to seek help from individual donors and the government,” said Sonam Norbu.
All pumped up, the Break Vibe Crew are next planning to go to Haa, Punakha, Wangdiphodrang and gradually to other Dzongkhags.

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