Poverty is one of the biggest evils in our society to date. While many NGOs are working cohesively to feed and educate poor children, not many focus on art and culture. Children are put in schools for education but are then left unattended. But teaching children art not just helps them in long run but can also provide opportunities for better employment in the future. Perhaps this is what Sinhayana Foundation felt when they started the initiative to teach underprivileged children dance for free.
With sheer determination, Vinay Sharma, a Delhi-based choreographer left his lucrative job in Bollywood to help underprivileged kids dance out of poverty. DOOP or ‘Dance Out of Poverty, was launched in 2016 when Sharma quit his job as an assistant director-cum-choreographer in filmmaker Rajkumar Santoshi’s film with the intention to help poor kids. Over the last 3 years, Vinay Sharma has helped more than 3,000 kids learn to dance between the age of 6 to 28.
Dance Out of Poverty is giving wings to the dreams of underprivileged kids.
Vinay Sharma started out with his own dancing studio in 2008 when he met a few kids who despite being tremendously talented had to drop out of coaching due to financial constraints. In 2011, Vinay moved to Mumbai and started working in Bollywood under many prominent choreographers such as the Late Saroj Khan. He worked in the industry up until 2016 when he was working with renowned director Rajkumar Santoshi and returned to Delhi. Vinay says that it was a kind of a ‘calling’ that motivated him to leave his well-settled job and dive into a completely new world. Along with the co-founders Mansi Dhanak and Raja Singh, Vinay opened ‘Dance Out of Poverty’.
“The idea that students from underprivileged backgrounds could use dance as a means to change their life was so empowering. I didn’t want to let go of that opportunity, especially if it meant I could be a small part of this empowerment.” Says Vinay Sharma, in an interview with The Better India.
He initially opened a two-month workshop under the guidance of Late choreographer Saroj Khan and took some kids in. The response was overwhelming as many kids became much more confident than before and just like this, the two-month workshop soon transformed into a full fledge organization training children to dance for free. Today DOOP not only just works in Delhi but also branches out in Mumbai as well creating livelihood opportunities for poor kids. The organization not just trains kids but also helps them with employment opportunities and placements. Many children have so far worked with actors including Ranbir Kapoor, Jackie Shroff, and Katrina Kaif among many others. DOOP believes in the principle, “If you have talent, we’ll nourish it”.
But this journey came with a lot of obstacles. Initially, the organization received backlash from the families as many kids came from needy families that needed an extra hand for quick income. Convincing the parents who weren’t supportive was one big task but when dance transformed the lives of these kids, many parents started pouring appreciation. Vinay funded the whole organization by himself and made an investment of almost Rs 12 lakh. So far, DOOP has managed to successfully place over 100 students as dancers, dance instructors, and even choreographers in the film industry. Eighty of them have found employment as dance instructors.
With DOOP, Vinay Sharma has helped children escape the evils of poverty that further drags them into the worlds of drugs and failure. Sharma has been working as a guardian angel for these kids.