That’s the way, Malvika Ve

“I’m not worried about making mistakes, or being as good as anyone else. I’m just there because I love to dance.”

Malvika, a physiotherapist working in age care, is also a die-hard lover of Bollywood and one of our regular students. Earlier this year I watched her dancing in Belly-Bolly, and I was struck by her playfulness and confidence. We talk with Malvika about how her dancing persona has transformed over time.

What prompted you to join dance classes?
I have always taken dance classes, since childhood. My mum wanted me to learn a classical form, but that never interested me. I loved pure Bollywood. After moving to Australia as an international student, I didn’t have the luxury to spend money on dance classes, so I had an almost ten-year break from dance!

And now you’ve immersed yourself into it!
Yes, I think it’s to make up for those ten years. As soon as I started earning, the first thing I did was enrol in dance classes. It feels really nice, that I can spend money on myself for leisure. It gives me a sense of freedom. I moved from Sydney to Melbourne in 2019, and immediately looked up Bollywood dance classes. I saw the Heels class at Studio J, enrolled myself, and I haven’t quit since.

What attracted you Bolly-Heels?
I saw the ‘Choli Ke Peeche’ video and I had never seen anything like that before. It looked new, different and interesting. And SO HOT! I wasn’t that confident with my body, so I figured it might be good for me.

Did the class help with your body confidence?
Well, I’m not a shy person but I hadn’t done much ‘sexy’ dancing. Maybe a Bollywood thumka, but nothing like how we dance in heels. Initially I was quite self-conscious and camera shy. But Gerard’s personality and his way of teaching helped me to open up. Now that it has been two years, I’m no longer self-conscious about “touching myself” (in Gerard’s words, she laughs). It’s brought out a new side of my personality and I’m enjoying that. I’m not worried about making mistakes, or being as good as anyone else. I’m just there because I love to dance.

Has this change impacted you outside of the dance studio as well?
For sure! Earlier, I was going through some struggles in my life. Dance helped a lot with my mental health. I might have skipped work, taken sick days, but I never skipped dance. I always turned up, and went home feeling happy. Now I dance for myself. I feel more powerful, more energetic and positive. It has affected my entire personality.

You also joined Bolly-Kathak classes?
Yes, I saw Ida’s class perform ‘Saathiya’ at the 2019 showcase and was mesmerized. I enrolled straight away. I’m now in Ida’s Bollywood Diva class, and it’s my favourite! It’s pure Bollywood, and I just love it.

Plus you’re really good friends with a lot of the other students in the classes!
My entire friendship circle is at Studio J! I joined the studio as soon as I moved to Melbourne. I was looking for friends and I’ve met great people here. There are many others also by themselves, with their parents and families are back in India. So we connect on that level as well. It’s a great community; very welcoming, warm and encouraging 🙂

Watch Malvika with teacher Ida in “Maahi Ve”

Interviewed by Joshinder Chaggar
16 July 2021