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Apeksha Bagchi

IWB Blogger

Natasha Of Doon Dancing Angels Waltzes Us Away With The Energy Of Her Trans Troupe

  • IWB Post
  •  May 17, 2018

“We, transgenders, have witnessed so much pain and felt such heartbreaks that helping others in need comes naturally to us,” Natasha said with a voice laced with heavy sadness and yet she hopes for a better future. And she and her Doon Dancing Angels are leaving no stone unturned when it comes to paving the path to that glowing tomorrow.

Skills and talent see no color, no race, no gender and yet we refuse to acknowledge a simple truth like this. Anything that doesn’t fall in our self-defined category of ‘normal’ is decreed as something unworthy of basic human rights. But long gone are the times when transgenders would take that partiality and do nothing. Doon Dancing Angels is an apt answer to the societal stigma.

They staged their first public performance in Dehradun recently to rave reviews, so naturally, it is celebration time for the team! And they are already practicing for their next performance. We engaged in a conversation with one of its members, 25-year-old Natasha to know more about the treasure of talents just waiting to wow the world away! Excerpts:

Congratulations on the brilliant performance by Doon Dancing Angels!

Thank you so much, Apeksha! It really was a dream come true for us.

Accepting one’s identity is something everyone finds hard to do. Being a transgender just doubles the dilemma. How did you overcome it and decide to stand up for being you?

I was in the 8th standard when I realized that I was a woman in a man’s body. And at that small age, I was well aware of the narrow mentality that the society reserves for people like us. And that had me feeling afraid then, but as time progressed and I gained more knowledge, met more people, I discovered that the world was not that unaccommodating of us like we think, I just had to look outside to find such people who supported me like my family always did.

transgenders

I attended numerous workshops and seminars on the betterment of the transgender community and that gave way to the confidence that had long remained dormant in me. I took a stand, not just for me but for my community as well.

I grew up in an environment that offered me equality devoid of the fact that I am a transgender. But when I met my current dance team members, I saw them being abused, humiliated but silently accepting the insults hurled at them. They would be insulted by their family, forced to be what they are not. They would never raise their voice against the grave injustice.

transgenders

I wanted them to have that fiery spirit that condemns anyone who dares to insult their existence. I knew it in my heart that it was time to something now.

Why did you choose the medium of dance to channel this fiery resistance of the community?

Some of us knew each other for over a year since we were working for the upliftment of the LGBTQ community. We noticed that there were quite efficient dancers among us and we thought ‘Why not showcase our talent?’ We wanted to put a positive spin on our status in society and thus 2 months, The Doon Dancing Angels came into being.

With time we want this to convert into a professional career for us. Like we sell the tickets to financially help our members.

You want to convey a strong message through your dance. If I ask you to put it into words, what is it that you aim to do via your dance steps?

I want to communicate that transgenders are not different from others, they also have the same skills and talents. Through our dance, we both want to bring the mainstream closer to us and diminish the distance between us.

transgenders

Another thing we want to change is the default image that comes to mind when one hears the word ‘transgender’- that all they do is clap and beg for money. Yes, I agree that earlier that was what we were reduced to do but the current generation of transgenders themselves don’t want this in life. They have become career-oriented, in fact, recently we got two transgenders admitted in Punjab National University, one is doing an MA in Hindi and another is doing a Diploma in the German language.

And what are you good at, except dancing?

love teaching and can handle kids with ease but if I were to do that, forget anyone else criticizing my decision, the parents would voice their displeasure over it. Many are unwilling to see our skills, what bothers them is our appearance. Nature never differentiates while making an individual skilled in a particular field, whether they are black, white, transgenders, then why do humans?

Why don’t you tell me about the reason behind the name of your dancing troupe, “Doon Dancing Angels?”

Well, what we are trying to say is simple: Don’t treat us like we are demons! We are as dear to God as you are, fellow human beings. In fact, when a child is born, they are brought to us for blessing, so don’t you think that them being divine is the reason (laughing).

transgenders

On a serious note, I have always found transgenders ready to help others. You see, they have faced so much pain and humiliation in the society that they know what it feels like for others and they do their best to help.

You mentioned that some of you were already pretty good dancers before this dancing group came into being. What about the other members, have you appointed a dance teacher?

Well, the group has many good dancers and they teach the rest. Actually, we were looking for a sponsor, any dance school, but we couldn’t find one. So, right now we are managing on our own.

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You all must have tons of fun while rehearsing for your programs.

Oh, yes! Like there was this one time when we were rehearsing in the Town Hall, and the staff there came to watch us and they too joined us and started grooving to the blaring music!

The rehearsals sure sound fun! The performances must have been equally great, how did the audience react?

The response was overwhelming! We were over the moon after getting their wonderful reactions, after all, it was just our first show. People loved our work! Students from IIT Roorkee had also attended our show and they invited us to their upcoming fest. Even our host was invited in their Convocation for felicitating the event.

You and your dance troupe have definitely left a mark! So tell me, what goes on backstage before your performances?

We all work as one but anytime if someone starts to lose confidence at the prospect of facing a crowd, everyone tries to boost their morale. No one is left to cope alone.

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No doubt that a group this united does wonders on stage. So what types of performances were there?

Our performances are either solo or in groups of two, three or four. We started with Vandana, then Garhwali folk, Punjabi folk, then Mujra, then retro and at the end, we had item numbers. We wanted to give the audience the variety to hold on to their attention. And for our next show in October, we are going to give them something which is different. For starters, we all would together dance on the stage to begin the show. The rest is a surprise! (we both laugh at her hilariously secretive tone)

transgenders

And, what challenges did you face while arranging your performance?

Surprisingly, NONE! I don’t know if the people of Dehradun are better or what. Earlier we had organized a pride walk, the First Pride Walk in Uttarakhand and since then we have developed many contacts like many advocates, police, our mayor who have always supported us. It was the mayor who got us the town hall for our performance.

Any future plans of going to other cities with your performance?

Yep! We would love to explore other cities, but wherever we would go, it would be Uttarakhand we will represent. But first, we would like to make our presence known in Uttarakhand. We want to target others like Haridwar, etc. Who knows that once our name becomes popular, we may even start getting offers for our performances!

This article was first published on December 11, 2017.

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