Meet CLEO Hot Shot 2019: Jaspreet Kaur

Jaspreet Kaur, 30, Dancepreneur – founder & lead dance instructor at BollyOn

T-shirt and leggings, Supply & Demand New York; sneakers, Nike; all from JD; watch, Fossil

If you thought you love to dance, meeting Jaspreet Kaur will show you that her love for the art probably supersedes most of us. Her movements are really high energy, addictive and you can totally tell she loves Bollywood dancing from her enthusiasm. It’s so much a part of her life that it fulfils her both creatively and personally. It’s no surprise that she decided to start her own dance school, BollyOn, with the goal of spreading the movement and culture to keep it alive.

Please describe what it is you are; and/or what you do.

I am the founder of BollyOn, a movement to take the very versatile Bollywood dance form, along with its traditional and folk roots, to the masses – not only to spread the music and the dance but to spread the culture and colour of this vibrant dance.

Did you have second thoughts about it? What was your backup plan if you couldn’t find work in this field?

It was a now or never situation for me. I was 27 when I decided to quit my job and dance full time and perhaps my experience of having done it part-time somewhat boosted my confidence, but yes – there were days when I second guessed my decision because it was tough and extremely lonely. But I did not give myself a backup plan. My Plan B was to make Plan A work – and that way I knew that I would give it my all and make sure I succeeded somehow.

What was the future you envisioned when you decided on this dream?

They say the sky is the limit when you dream, so I envisioned the future for BollyOn to be a one stop Bollywood provider. Not only providing dance related services but branching out to other aspects of Bollywood like clothing or jewelry. But the essence of BollyOn will always be the freedom and healing that dance has brought me. But who is to say where it will all lead me.

How has dancing changed you? Were you the same person before? If not, please describe.

Dancing has always been a part of my life, but doing it full time and as a profession has instilled and reinforced so many things for me – like patience, acceptance and trust. When doing something professionally and around the clock, it can turn you into the biggest critic of yourself, but like everything in this world, it is a never ending growth curve. I’ve learnt to be become more patient and accepting, of not only others but of myself. Dance has also taught me to breathe and to be more present, fueling the artsy side of me.

“When doing something professionally and around the clock, it can turn you into the biggest critic of yourself, but like everything in this world, it is a never ending growth curve. I’ve learnt to be become more patient and accepting, of not only others but of myself.”

Why choose Bollywood dancing? Have you tried other styles of dancing?

Mainly because I grew up watching and embodying famous Bollywood actresses and their dance moves. Typically, Bollywood movies are almost like musicals – they incorporate large amounts of drama and have loads of singing and dancing. To me, Bollywood is the most versatile form of dance. It is through Bollywood dance and movies that I was introduced to not only Indian dance forms like kathak, but also western dance forms like stomping, contemporary and hiphop. Every year, I make it a point to visit India to train and to be exposed to different styles of Bollywood dancing, from the land that it came from.

What do you do to make sure that the traditional dance moves maintain?

The traditional forms themselves, I believe, will always be present. There is no doubt that they are harder to uphold and require years of practice and dedication. I believe that there is a growing awareness that is moving dancers towards training in some sort of traditional Indian dance form, in order to uphold the grace and quality that the traditional elements bring to Bollywood dancing. Also, because it is a film-style of dancing, it is even more inspiring to see famous Indian actors training in classical dances be able to execute their dance moves with precision.

Having founded Bollyon at such a young age, what were the challenges you faced?

BollyOn was the first of its kind, an actual Bollywood dance provider, providing choreography and followgraphy (Bollywood cardio fitness) sessions. One of the major challenges was coping with jealousy and prying eyes. The unfortunate problem with running a business is that not many understand the concept of collaboration. Instead, all companies are far too worried about protecting themselves – rightfully so, as one is trying to outsmart or outsell another. In the midst of all of this was the loss of friendships to jealousy. Instead of supporting and building each other, I found that I needed to stand up for my rights, and I felt somewhat suppressed by an older monopoly mentality.

What do you wish to tell your younger self?

I wish I could tell my younger self to not seek for validation externally, and to find methods to validate myself from within. Perhaps it is a growing phase, to be unsure of your work – I don’t seem to do it as much now, but that also could be because it is an area I am actively working on.

Special thanks to Tropicana Gardens Property Gallery for venue assistance during the shoot.

Official sponsors: Biotherm MalaysiaJD Malaysia and Fossil Malaysia