Getting Chennai to dance! The impressive journey of Salsa Madras
There are many reasons why Arun Srinivasan should be proud of his work at Salsa Madras, the dance academy that he founded four years ago. Perhaps the most important one is how he gave social dancing in Chennai an accessible and reckonable platform. We caught up with one of his troupe’s performances at the Indulge Valentine’s Day bash last week, where they swayed and twirled and brought some Latin flavour to the event with their elegant moves and some glitter thrown in. They caught everyone’s attention, and received approving nods from the crowd as well as the Consul Generals and other delegates who were present at the event.
Talking about how the city has some of the most respectable and dignified performers, Arun shares how it is not just about training for competitions, even though his students have indeed danced at international contests like Bangkok Salsa Fiesta and Boracay Latin Dance Festival, Philippines. He tells us that it is also about making people overcome their diffidence socially and learn a dance form to finally turn into a participant from a spectator.
Although Arun was a member of the dance team at Anna University, it was only when he was pursuing his post-graduate degree in Life Science at The University of Edinburgh that he was inspired to take up dance as a profession. “I once signed up for a salsa night at the college, and since then I trained myself and developed my skills along the way,” he says, adding that after his course, he returned home and joined city-based Lourd Vijay’s Dance Studio as one of the teachers in 2009. “One of the most significant things that I learnt from him is how to balance passion and profession. Too much focus on either might lead to a compromise in the other,” he explains.
Having realised his true calling, by 2014 he had set up a dance studio of his own. “It was initially called Salsa Chennai, but we felt Madras generates a better connection with the city. Hence we changed it to Salsa Madras,” he says. Now they have gone beyond salsa to teach bachata and kizomba, while the recently started classes in aerial silks (aerial acrobatics hanging from a fabric) are supervised by his fiancée Julia Pauer from Austria.
“We also host sessions in other forms of Latin dance, such as Latin freestyle and belly dancing,” he says, adding that he is open to roping in experts of other social dancing styles. Salsa Madras is also celebrating its fourth anniversary, but Arun says he has a long way to go before making it a globally recognised company. Until then, the spotlight will be on namma Madras!
Classes at Mylapore, Anna Nagar and RA Puram. Monthly charges from Rs. 2,600 onwards.