Happy Feet — Dance Till I Die: Kunal Zac Neo

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Ritanjali Hastir, Keekli Reporter, September 2014, Shimla

 Kunal Zac Neo a young hip hop dancer seems to have decided to bring change in the dance culture with his talent. He is confident enough to compete for face off challenge and simultaneously is open to teach interested needy students without any fee in his academy. “It is only with the help of YouTube that I finally learnt dance after lots of hard work, resilience and zeal”– Kunal

Kunal.sep.14aThe desire to be accepted by the society is the most common human instinct and in its pursuit many of us do give up on following our heart but there are very few people like Kunal Shrivastav popularly known as Kunal Zac Neo, who dares to swim against the tide and keep their passion burning.

Born and brought up in Shimla, Kunal is currently pursuing graduation at the Kotshera College, Shimla and since childhood was interested in dancing in Hip Hop style. He shares, “It is not easy to swim against the tide. Hip Hop is a complete culture in itself. It requires particular style of dressing and other mannerism which initially, when we thought about making a dancing group in college, was not easily accepted the group members itself as Shimla is a fashionable city and dressing up in loose and long T- shirts was quite embarrassing”. However I was determined to make my presence felt so I never cared much how people looked at me and I do not think anyone except for my close relatives have seen me without my cap for past so many years, he says further.

While informing about the dance form Kunal says, “Hip Hop culture originated in New York amongst young Hispanic and African American communities during the late 1960s. Initially my family was supportive but when they saw I was totally into it, their faith seems to have been shaken feeling worried about my future but still they support me for they know it is my life which always overwhelms me”.

“In Shimla I do not think anyone has received so much attention as my group did as Hip Hop dancers. I feel sad that during our time there was not a single teacher who taught us this dance form and it is only with the help of YouTube that I finally learnt after shedding lots of blood and sweat”, expresses Kunal while reflecting back on his dance journey.

Kunal.sep.14Kunal’s dance group has split many times with the addition of new members during his journey towards achieving his dream, he adds, “It definitely hurts to see a strong team member leave on whom so much hard work has been invested which creates a vacuum in the group, which I now definitely do not regret but yes I do have trust issues. Even today I give my hundred per cent when I train other dancers in my group”.

Though Kunal has gained lots of popularity among youngsters but still he does not consider himself to be a master as he says, “The four element that are essential for a true hip hopper includes – rap music (aural), turntablism or “DJing” (aural), breaking (physical) and graffiti art (visual); I still feel that I have a lot to learn”.

“In Shimla there are more metal heads than hip hoppers but I feel that slowly the tide will turn as there are so many students at Yuva Naves G Pakers Academy. I teach there almost all dance forms except for classical and folk dances”, shares Kunal.

As a piece of advice for aspiring dancers he says, “It is not an easy way to impress girls, you really need to work hard for it. Success should not be taken to head as I have been literally to the moon and back” and he adds, “My songs No Offense with Tara Hall and Chelsea and Don’t Tell Me What To Play are just songs and I wish that no offense is taken by anyone.”

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