Ashley Lobo: Dance Can Help Youth Glide Through The Pandemic And Stress!

Ashley Lobo: Dance Can Help Youth Glide Through The Pandemic And Stress!
Even while the world wakes to a new pandemic-induced worry for its youth, hope can actually just be a pirouette away. The UN predicts that half of all youth in the world could suffer from depression from the ongoing crisis, but choreographer Ashley Lobo says a ballotte here and a frappe there coupled with a desire to soar above all anxieties could just send downheartedness flying away.

"Being at home and not with their peer group is not how they would have ever imagined life but given their proximity to gadgets and the online world, they are doing a pretty good job. When youth  dance it is obvious that they like to be let free and that spirit is visible in whatever they do." Ashley adds.

It is a fact that the pandemic has affected youngsters profoundly, mostly for the worse. But thanks to technology, through videos and virtual means, youth across the country have been expressing themselves in unique ways, and it is believed that the performing arts are only helping to liberate them even more. For Ashley, in the art form of dance there is, after all, no perfection, only being one with the self and realising one's true emotions and passion by dancing from the heart. "I have seen students over the years feel relaxed and happy after a dance session. This is because during the class, stress levels dive and the endorphins take over and this makes the mind calm. It can be an extremely spiritual experience. When one dances, one connects to the music and to the self. In that one moment, you become one with yourself and the universe and that strain is the best mantra to get over pandemic blues,” says Ashley.
Because of the choreographer’s innate concern for the young, his dance academy Danceworx runs a number of schedules for the lot. . The first such is the Youth Reach Project (New Delhi) – set up to reach out to underprivileged kids from shelters and street children to give them free dance tuition with the aim of channelizing their energies and giving the talented ones an opportunity to have a vocation. The Kwaish Project (Dharavi, Mumbai) – is again set up for the same reason. The Going Home Project which has grabbed the most headlines so far is a fully-funded dance scholarship program to help talented young dancers who come from financially challenged backgrounds across India to build a professional dance career for themselves. The program has churned out popular dancers like Amirruddin Shah and Manish Chauhan whose story inspired the Netflix original film 'Yeh Ballet'.

Ashley Lobo who has choreographed for Bollywood films such as ‘Dhoom’, ‘Jab We Met’, ‘Cocktail’, and many others, thinks it is important for the youngster to be guided properly and the importance of discipline instilled early. "Then be it a crisis, pandemic, or any other trouble, you will always see the young rise above and show the discipline in every facet of life."

The current imbroglio which has stopped dancers worldwide from running riot on the dance floor and forced to channelize their energy online is seeing quite a bit of heft in the youth groups. Despite being confined to their homes and missing their friends, the youth are doing wonders with dance and the arts and this shows that they will finally emerge victorious, says Ashley. “They will come stronger once this is all behind us because even now the youth in my online classes can find balance in dance through the turbulence of the global pandemic. That is the power of the young and restless."