Life as a Competitive Dancer

I watched a Tamil movie called Lakshmi last weekend. The day before I watched this movie, I was on stage in front of an audience of 1600 competing in my first ever professional Bhangra competition. Therefore, watching Lakshmi really struck a chord with me. This is why I am sat here right now blogging (after what seems like ages). Lakshmi is a movie which probably hit a chord or two for every single individual who has watched this movie so far. Dancers who struggle to convince their conservative parents of how important dance is to them will really understand the emotions of the protagonist who struggled, as a child, having to face the same issue. Dancers who have experienced stage fright would really understand how the protagonist felt on her first ever stage performance, whilst being blinded by the strong stage lights and immense crowd. Dancers, who have experienced relationship problems as a result of their arduous dance training schedules, will be able to relate to this movie as well. Those who do not dance may want their child to become as strong of a dancer as the protagonist is in the movie, or maybe even not!

For me however, watching this movie really hit home regarding the life of a competitive dancer. This includes: the auditioning phase; getting onto the team; sacrificing free-time/family-time/social life for training; facing failures as a dancer and as a team member; fighting through pain whilst struggling on stage; protecting and fighting for your team-members no matter what; knowing the feeling of having your team as your new-found family and willing to sacrifice anything and everything for this new family. All these factors get amplified 100-fold when dancers are also balancing another professional career or degree as well.

I competed in my first ever dance competition at the age of 9 years old. At that age I had no idea that I would be spending a large proportion of my dance career training for and competing in competitions. But here I am now, 15 years on, having competed in 11 national dance competitions: 3 Bharathanatyam competitions, 1 Bollywood, 2 Gaana/Tamil Cinematic Dance and 5 Bhangra competitions. Of the 11, 8 of them happened in the last 3 years!

I am writing this to showcase the realities of training for a dance competition. It is tough. It is not as glamorous as it sounds or looks. The final product that the audience sees is merely a 5-10 minutes result of more than at least 100 hours of training. The sacrifices competitive dancers make to perform the way they do on stage are terrific.

I am writing this blog as an awareness to those who do not know of what we, as competitive dancers, go through on a weekly, if not daily, basis.

Many of us competitive dancers have sacrificed spending time with family and friends on numerous occasions. There have been times when I have not seen my family for 3 months! I have whole-day dance training during the weekends; I have university/work during the weekdays. I cannot jeopardize my team at any point. Ultimately I have signed up to investing my weekends into dance training, so I cannot just turn around and say, I cannot go training because I feel homesick, unless of course something urgent crops up.

The overall lifestyle of a competitive dancer is very different to that of a normal person. Firstly, I have to think twice about what I eat – I do not eat out; I cook my own food which I try to keep as clean as possible; I stay away from Tamil food, even if it is home-cooked. Secondly, I have to be cautious about what social and physical activities I do; for example, I have to avoid going out because I do not want to feel drained for training the next day and I want to feel well rested before training. Finally, competitive dancers have to get used to living with injuries – shin splints, blisters, muscle aches – I spend most of my time outside of training dosed up on maximum pain-relief and walking like a penguin, because of how many injuries I suffer. Even as I write this now, I am typing with my right hand because I pulled by biceps muscle in my left arm during training for my most recent competition I took part last weekend. No imagine this being our normal life for the most part of a year. Yep, that’s our life!

Training to be a competitive dancer means you are training to be an athlete. So yes, it is extremely difficult, but what is worth keeping will not come easy. I do not regret any part of this journey at all, because with every competition I have become more and more of a committed and disciplined individual. Every competition enables me to hone myself into a better dancer as well as a better human being and that is all I care about right now. Onwards and upwards.

Medical School, Dance and everything else

‘Praveena, how do you manage Medical school, dance, blogging and everything else you do?!’

I am not going to give you the cliched ‘Time management’, ‘organisation’, ‘commitment’ talk. That is given in life regardless of what you want to pursue.

I am going to tell you how much I struggled. Honestly it was tough. Society prefers me to do one or the other, but not everything. This is because society does not believe that I can do all of it well.

I wanted to prove society wrong. I think it is completely okay to have a passion for multiple things. I think it is also okay to pursue it simultaneously with the right mindset.

Being a medical student (now doctor!), dancer/choreographer, having a small wedding choreo business and blogging sounds glamorous but it involved a lot of sacrifices at different stages of my life.

To pursue my medical studies, there were moments in my life that I had to stop dancing. To pursue dancing, there were moments when I had to put dance over medicine. When I wanted to establish my business, I had to sacrifice my health and well being and travel more between cities (driving two hours from Birmingham to London and back doesn’t sound as strenuous but imagine doing that nearly every weekend for the past year!). To blog, I had to invest so much more time into reading.

To pursue it all at the same time, I had to sacrifice my social life big time…and I still do. I couldn’t go out as much because I would have to be awake early the next day to drive back to London/Birmingham. I stopped watching TV shows for a whole year, because I genuinely did not have the time. The big reminder is, this is the CHOICE I made. Others may not be like that and that’s completely fine. Just remember to make a choice that is true to what you want.

During each stage of this process there were failures and disappointments I experienced. As a result I was constantly being judged for my choices. By several people, but I put that all to the side because I knew exactly what I was doing. It may have not been the way others may have done it, but that’s okay because I am slowly getting through it.

Sometimes the balance has tipped and I have made mistakes. It was not all as smooth as it looks. My health, my education, my dance career, business, blogging have all suffered at some point or another. Nonetheless, finding the drive to get through and find the light at the end of the tunnel was key.

Moral of the story – be ready to sacrifice. Be ready to commit. Be ready for criticism. Make the choices to pursue what you love. You do not need anyone’s permission except your own to do good. So just do it!

The journey has only just begun. Being a student did make it a lot easier to pursue everything I wanted to and establish a strong foundation for my passions. I will start working in a month and a half. Therefore, work life is going to present to me a whole new set of challenges, so I do not know what is going to happen and how difficult it is going be. That’s the perks of life though right…ready to take on the next set of challenges to further establish my profession, passion and everything else.

How I deal with my mistakes and failures

I took part at The Bhangra Showdown 2018 on Saturday 3rd February 2018, which took place at the Genting Arena, NEC, in Birmingham. This explains why I have been so quiet on all social media platforms; having to balance studies and full time Bhangra training is extremely tough.

Now those who follow me closely, will be probably remember that Kings of Gaana 2017 was meant to be my last official university dance competition. This is partly right. I was very much done with the university dance competitions. However, over the Christmas holidays, I got a phone call from my ex-jodi/captain who explained to me how they have had one female dancer dropout and would love to have me join the team from mid-January onwards. Something made me say yes straightaway. I have always known how strenuous Bhangra training is, yet I do love it so I said yes.

I had around 2 weeks to learn the routine, formations and get my stamina up to a performance level. Challenge accepted.

Some may be thinking, why would I go into the Bhangra competition scene again after having such a successful year in 2017 at The Bhangra Showdown. Well, my success should not be measured by my achievements. Instead my success should be measured by my journey and experiences, which ultimately contribute to my growth. I did not want my ego to take over. Every year I do Bhangra, I learn something new technically or culturally. Why would I want to stop that process of learning merely because of two trophies myself and the team received last year?

Looking back at the past 2 weeks, they have been the most stimulating, challenging and demanding two weeks, physically and mentally. However, I could not have asked for a better opportunity to grow, learn about myself and meet genuine life-long friends.

Our university has had an extremely successful year for the past 6/7 years – either placing 1st or 2nd. This year was definitely not one of them. We did not win, but most upsetting was that we did not even place. Our team not placing did not hurt me as much to be honest, because I always tell myself everything happens for a reason. However, what was bugging me for some time was whether I was responsible for it. The captain, co-captain and I were responsible for setting up markers on stage for the performance. Long story short, we messed up. The stage dimensions we had set up were a lot bigger than those that we had practiced on. This meant that throughout the performance we were travelling a lot further across stage which ultimately had a knock on effect on our energy levels.

The old me would have cried and sulked about this and I would have held myself responsible for the rest of my life. Such a way of dealing with mistakes and failure is not the right way at all.

I am now wiser. Therefore, my approach to this situation was a whole lot different. I told myself the following:

• These things happen on stage and it is unavoidable. I tried my best there and then to rectify the situation to the best of my ability.

• I am a performer, the number of competitions and performances I have done; the number of mistakes I have made – none of this stopped me from recognising my potential as a dancer, so why should this isolated situation do that?

• We practiced stage set-up numerous times and nothing of the sort happened before, so it happening on the night of our performance was just a bit of a shock to the system but it made me realise that this is what performing is all about.

• The reality of performing really hit me. Therefore, next time I do perform I will make sure to fight back stronger and trust me any mistakes I have made will never happen again. This is a promise I make to myself.

• The mistake, our failure as a team, does not make me or my team bad dancers at all. In fact, looking back at how much this team has gone through, I do not think the UK has seen an emotionally or physically stronger team before, and trust me on that because it is my 7th university dance competition team I have been part of.

What have a learnt about myself?

1. I have grown mentally and physically. My perspective of my mistakes and failures is more positive. I see the opportunity and potential for growth in each of these events. This is an ultimate reflection of my spiritual growth. I love it, and I feel so much more awakened.

2. People may be judging me – ‘Praveena is a perfectionist and performer, so how could she make such mistakes?’ Well, believe it or not folks, I am human which means I am allowed to make mistakes as any other human is. I have no need to judge myself based on others’ judgments. I used to be a perfectionist, but I realised that perfectionism is not good for my well-being and it restricted me from opening my mind to the realities of life.

3. My mistakes do not define me. How I deal with and grow from my mistakes is what defines me. I promise myself that I will not make, or let anyone make such a mistake like this ever again.

4. I have the mental and physical strength to learnt strenuous routines in such a short space of time. I never thought I could get on stage with very little training time, but I realised that I actually could – this achievement is more precious to me than any win, trophy or accolade.

I am a strong human being. The competition is done now, so I can fully focus on dedicating my passion for dance to myself, all of you and most importantly to God.

Do I look like a joke to people?

My recent realisation about how consumed people are getting over social media happened as a result of a situation I was faced with.

Several individuals who have started up their own businesses in the Tamil community, especially in the realm of fashion and beauty, use social media widely to promote their brand. I think it is definitely a brilliant tool to use to promote brands because of how broad the audience is.

However, a recent encounter made me realise how people are getting engulfed by social media, and particularly Instagram. Let me describe what this was. There have been an influx of shoots taking place where several stylists, make-up artists, saree and jewellery vendors get together to showcase their products via photos and videos which can then be shared extensively across social media. I am not criticising the intentions behind it at all, because that is exactly what businesses need to do to promote their brand and help it grow.

What did make my blood crawl (quite literally) was that I was approached by one of these vendors to come along to one of these shoots. I am a dancer and I have been using social media to showcase my dance work. Therefore, naturally I thought that I was probably needed to choreograph a video shoot, or something along those lines. But no… wait for it…

The reason they wanted me there was to plaster all over my social media (my Insta story and insta feed) that such a shoot was taking place, because I have an active followership. They wanted as many people to come together to plaster all over social media, so the shoot could get a buzz on social media.

I was not available for the date anyway so I did not commit to it. Nonetheless, after a few weeks I started to think more about this. This is what cross my mind:

Do I look like a joke? I have built myself as a dancer through years of training. I found it so disrespectful and to be very honest very disheartening that people will do shoots just for social media and to create a buzz. That is exactly how it came across to me. I am all for promotion if the intentions are right. If I believe in a product or brand, then I will of course promote it without a doubt. However, to ask a person (me) who does not even belong in the fashion industry to come along so I can stand around and be on my phone to record and post on my insta story came across as very desperate to me.

I apologise to all those who genuinely do such shoots for the sole purpose of building their brand and using it to build their portfolio. Building a portfolio can be done through several avenues, but it has become so easy to rely solely on social media. That is wrong.

Let me conclude with a message to all vendors. This may come across as a harsh blog. Yes it is. I was hurt. Very hurt.

I love photoshoots, so this is nothing against the industry at all. I have previously modelled for my friend’s fashion line, and looking at all these shoots inspires me to think further about my own fashion. I like engaging with genuine shoots with an intention to inspire people. I do not like engaging with shoots which are merely done for a social media buzz. There is a fine but important line to draw.

Every time anyone does a shoot now, think about why they are doing it. If anyone wants their brand to last, they cannot just merely rely on impressing people. If this the case then social media is being misused. Whatever type of brand it may be, think about how it can be escalated to a level where it is positively impacting people.

Sorry about the rant guys x

Daily Musings

Social media has helped me a lot with my professional dance career. I do not of course depend on it, but it has for sure given me a portal through which I can interact with fellow lovers of dance which I never had before. 

I use my social media now not just to post about my dance work, but to also to use it as a way to convey my thoughts about general life, in the form of inspirational, motivational, thought-provoking quotes. Everything I post has a reason but I never share it so here goes with some of my favourites. 

‘Are you really happy or just really comfortable?’

This is the deepest question one can ask themselves. Do not settle for a life that looks good on the outside. Do not settle for a life where a roof over your head, financial security and everything materialistic are set out for you. Work for it. When you work for it and can say to yourself, ‘This is something I have built’, that is when you will feel truly happy and accomplished. Until then keep hustling. 

‘Success does not come from what you do occasionally; it comes from what you do consistently.’

Especially in the scene of performance arts I’ve come across many who pursue something for a short while and call that success. For me, success is a journey and there is no end point. You need to practice something consistently to really unleash your potential in it!

‘You can speak spiritual eloquence, pray in public, and maintain a holy appearance…but it is your behaviour that will reveal your true character.’

I call such people hypocrites. I say this very confidently because I used to be one myself. Until 2 years ago I realised I need to own up to what I really feel and act on it. It is no good saying that ‘I am this…I believe in this…’ when your actions say the complete opposite.

There are several people who just act in a way to seek public approval. With social media, the number of likes and followers seems to be used to quantify whether you are being approved by society or not.

How many of them will, including myself, actually practice what they preach?

‘Generally people like to bring up your past, when your present and future appears to be better than theirs.’

I dislike people who bring up another’s past. But now, the more they do it, the more I am like ‘Is that the only thing you have against them?’

Some people are so stuck in their bubble they refuse to accept another’s success in any way, shape or form. Therefore to bring another down they use their past.

Just think. If I did that to you? How would you feel? How ‘clean’ is your past? I can guarantee that those who act in such a way do not have the best of pasts. So if you believe you have changed, then give others the benefit of the doubt that they have changed as well. It’s that simple.

‘A private life is a happy life.’

Over the past few years I have become more and more aware of people who use social media to post about there private drama and unhappiness.

Question 1: Is posting on social media going to resolve that problem? Will it give happiness?

Question 2: Are you the only one in the world who is going through problems?

Question 3: What is the purpose of you posting your personal problems on social media? If you feel like that is giving your control over the situation, look at yourself and your attitude towards life.

Question 4: Do you actually think people care when each and everyone one of us is going through our own problems? I mean some may acknowledge by liking your post, but what does a ‘like’ mean? If a ‘like’ is the validation you need, then go ahead and keep posting. But I am secretly feeling sorry for you for reasons other than for the ones you wanted me to feel sorry for.

‘A lot of people want to make the institution of marriage a substitute for a real relationship.’

Marriage is not something which should not be a result of convenience.

Do not enter marriage because the current situation you are in warrants a marriage, so it is considered socially and culturally acceptable.

A marriage is a process which should occur at the right time, with the blessings of the right people, for the right reason which is nothing but true love!

Final thoughts:

Each of these thoughts are ones which I started to think more about based on the events which were taking place around me. I am not perfect, but I’m working on myself to think bigger and wiser so I can constantly reflect and grow myself. That is what life is about. Have a reason for every action and make sure you do not hurt anyone!

Life as a Wedding Choreographer

My life as an official Wedding Choreographer started very recently.

I made the announcement on the 14th of June 2017, so today marks my new venture’s 3 month anniversary – what a journey it has been so far.

This blog is about what brought me into the realm of wedding choreography. I have then described my experiences, since June 2017, as an official Wedding Choreographer.

Life before Wedding Choreography

Before I got into Wedding Choreography, I danced for pre-wedding celebrations, weddings and wedding receptions of family and friends. I had several opportunities over the past 3 years to also choreograph for bridal fashion-shows in and outside of university. Both these opportunities made me fall in love with the wedding environment and mood that much more.

Life as a Wedding Choreographer

Since the official announcement, I have been involved with 3 weddings. Three weddings might not seem like a lot, but with the amount of time put into each with pre-planning and rehearsals means that each wedding dance can take weeks to prepare for. For this reason, I am going to discuss my experiences of each from start to finish, and how the final outcome shaped up.

Client 1 – Vanathy and Pratheepan – June 2017

DISCLAIMER – I am calling Vanathy a client for professional reasons, but let me explain that she is one my closest friends. She will literally kill me after reading this so I am attempting to protect myself now. (See below)

Vanathy has been one of my good friends since I was a teenager. She is a dancer herself and I met her through Bharathanatyam lessons. I do not want to start on the number of duos we have performed together on stage. She is definitely one of my most fun dance partners and what is more is that I literally have always seen her as my older sister.

Therefore when she decided that she wanted to dance for both her bridal entrances of her Hindu ceremony I was not surprised. My cousin and I, with Vanathy’s input of course, did the choreography together. It is definitely something very new for me and something which I have not often seen being done.

Vanathy decided on both her bridal entrances songs. The Manavarei saree entrance was to Ore Or Ooril, from Baahubali 2; the koorai saree entrance was to a religious stuthi (chant) about Lord Shiva – Suvarnamaalastuthi.

The fact that all three of us have known each other dance styles for years now meant that the choreography process was actually very straight forward. We sat down a week before the wedding, listened to songs and started the choreography process. It was a team effort for sure and that is what made it that much more fun. We all chipped in ideas and came up with the final product.

The main challenges faced was that Vanathy wanted to dance for her Manavarai Saree entrance. Why this was a challenge was because people should not think it is cheesy/cringey when the Bride dances down the aisle. Therefore, we had to ensure the choreography was simple, cultured and elegant, to reflect the atmosphere of the wedding which was very classy indeed. And of course, her Manavarei saree entrance was to a very royal song, so the choreography had to reflect this royalty.

Vanathy chose the second song, in praise of Lord Shiva. Her mum and Vanathy decided that the Koorai entrance should be to a religious song rather than to a movie-based song. Everyone loved this entrance and enjoyed the mood of the song in line with the entrance.

I loved being one of the choreographers for Vanathy’s bridal entrances. It was unique and my first experience of choreographing for Bridal entrances. I think it is fair to say that overall the bridal entrances were a massive hit and created waves across social media, which we were all very surprised yet grateful about.

Bridal entrances are a very special and exciting moment for the Bride, Groom and the rest of the family and friends attending the wedding. I hope more Brides will be brave enough to experiment with their Bridal entrances, because I believe it is something they will cherish for the rest of their lives.

Client 2 – Annaniya and Sai – August 2017

I was approached by Sai’s sister in June enquiring about wedding choreography. At the time I did know that it was for her brother and sister-in-law that she was enquiring about. Then she told me that she wanted to get first dance lessons from me, as a gift for them, which I found incredibly adorable.

After the booking was confirmed with the sister, Annaniya got in touch with me. When I asked her about what their vision was for their first dance, they knew that they wanted a traditional slow first dance to begin with and then a transition into a more funky segment with elements of Tamil music.

My initial role was to create a playlist of possible songs. The list was not set in stone. It was more a starting point for them. They could obviously have chosen from those songs, but my idea was that it would give them some inspiration as to what songs to choose, so below are the songs they finalised:

Perfect by Ed Sheeran
Drake – Controlla (90’s Tamil Medley) – Mashup cover by Inno Genga

They had chosen two very different styles of songs which obviously made it that much more of a unique experience for me as a choreographer. They were extremely focused and really wanted to make this first dance a special one. I gave them a lot of leeway to make the dance their own. They wanted lifts, spins and slow dance elements which were all incorporated, but ultimately I told them, what I teach them is a guidance and if they want to add or take anything away, that is entirely their choice and I will help them master the changes. They enjoyed the original choreography I taught them and stuck by and their dedication shone through: within 2 hours of rehearsals, they had mastered the routine.

Client 2 – Deanusa’s Brother’s reception family dance – September 2017

Deanusa is actually my first official client because she contacted me about choreographing a family dance for her and her friends, for her brother’s wedding reception, even before I made my official announcement as a Wedding Choreographer. However, I ranked my clients in order of the event dates hence she is ranked as my most recent one.

I found working with Deanusa and her friends a very interesting and fun experience. They knew exactly what they wanted and gave me a list of songs with the timings and the order in which they wanted it to feature in the final mix.

My initial responsibility was actually to listen to all the songs and gage an understanding of the whole mood of what they wanted for their performance. I then made a few suggestions about other songs they could consider as well which they gladly took into consideration.

When the final set of songs were confirmed, I started working on the mix – yes I can make basic mixes on my own, and am gradually improving my ability to do so. After the mix was confirmed, we commenced on rehearsals. Below are the songs they danced to:

Desingu Raja from Thavasi
Jallakku Jallakku from Endrendrum Kadhal
Chottu Chottu from Taj Mahal
Rasika from Star
Pinga from Bajirao Mastani
Radhai Manathil from Snehithiye
Chinna Nam Veetukku from Poovellam Un Vaasam

I had to spend the first rehearsal teaching them a simple choreography from their routine. I used this time to gage their dancing skill level. Based on this I then shaped the rest of the choreography. I ultimately wanted the girls to feel comfortable and enjoy the dance piece they were going to perform, which they did feel very much.

Even though I did all the choreography, the girls had their own input. If they wanted certain things in the choreography for example using props, they let me know and I would change it up to suit their needs accordingly. Ultimately, client satisfaction is key. It is their event, it is their dance, so the choreography needs to reflect them.

As a business venture so far…

Unlike many other wedding businesses, I am the product of my business. I do not have materials to sell; I am selling my services as a dancer and choreographer to couples who will require it for their big day. My business model is me. I do not have products to put faith into. I have to put faith into myself and my skills as a dancer and choreographer.

Yes this can put pressure on me to utilise my skill set maximally yet efficiently. However, it gives me that much more control of the whole situation and stretches me to an extent that I can learn that much more.

The past three weddings I have worked on have been very different learning experiences which I have enjoyed so much for various reasons. I love what I do and I realised how much I actually love connecting with people through dance. Working with individuals who have little to no prior dance experience is where the challenge yet fun lies for me, because it pushes me to go beyond just teaching dance. It is predominantly about building a rapport which will make my clients feel comfortable to dance. The choreography does not have to be complex at all; the real success lies in giving individuals, who have never danced before, the courage to do it confidently in front of an audience which comprises of their family and friends, which I find to be the hardest audience to perform for.

What I have found most rewarding is that as a Wedding Choreographer you get to know the clients on a more personal level than just seeing them on the day. When I work with individuals who have never danced, I am bringing out something which they may not be too comfortable with – their ability to dance. It is through this process that you get to connect to a client on a personal level and build a rapport which I do not think can be brought out with several of the other wedding businesses.

Being a Wedding Choreographer is not just about choreographing and teaching. It is about guiding, motivating and of course doing a lot of pre-preparation so the couple are given a wide range of options to choose from with regards to songs, final mixes and of course choreography. Well this is how I have structured my business model because I work to give all the freedom to my clients. It is their wedding at the end of the day. I am merely there for professional guidance and support.

Three months into the business, I am proud of the opportunities which have come my way. I am happy about my clients and the responses I have got from them, and of course I am grateful about the support I have got from my friends and family.

Let’s continue this journey onwards and upwards from here.

The Challenges of Instagram

Those of you who know me well will know that I do love sharing key moments of my life, and particularly on Instagram – I have done so for several years now.

I have had a private instagram account for just over 4 years now – @praveena_pranavarooban. I call this account my private account because:

1) I follow and am followed by people I know very well and on a personal level – friends, cousins, etc.

2) I post more personal aspects of my life on that profile – my parents, my extended family, my relationship, my social life, etc.

So now I wanted to discuss the purpose of my public account and how the aims of it changed overtime:

Initial aims of my public profile and PraveenaUK:

• Strictly for dance – to show that I am a dancer and wanted a platform to share my love for dance – whether it be through photos or videos
• Should post nothing aside from my solo stuff and achievements
• Dance covers
• No family
• No friends
• No relationships
• Nothing about any other people around me

Aims of my public profile and PraveenaUK:

• Motivate
• Inspire
• Business profile – a medium through which people can enquire and book for wedding choreography
• Showcase shades of my personal day to day life by sharing stuff about me – what I am up to; my love for reading, books, sarees; the positive people around me – my dance teams, friends I made through dance, some of my closest friends, my work/business teams, my sister
• A dance and personal portfolio
• Still will protect my parents because they are not used to the impact of being in the public eye and they are not a massive fan of it, which I completely respect – so no parents and extended family members (unless they are dancers)
• No relationships

I met up with a friend of mine recently, and she asked me what the reasoning behind this gradual change in the nature my posts on my public account was. She had noticed that it was becoming more personal now and asked me what the reason behind this was.

[I am very glad to be surrounded by people who question my every action. Such friends make me think, push me, keep me grounded and help me stay focused].

So back to her question. The reason my public account has started to become a little more personal is because I believe that people are now aware that I am a dancer. There is no need for me to keep showcasing that I am. Now it is time people get to see the person behind ‘Praveena UK’.

I like posting about my team members now (whether it be dance or business), because they are individuals who have taught me so much about dance, and how to conduct myself as a dancer and choreographer. They are a family whom I feel blessed to have gained.

I am in the process now of creating a correct balance between showcasing my professional and personal life. I am certainly more focused on giving more importance to my professional life than personal, but I do not want people to neglect the fact that I am human. I do have a personal life and in the correct doses, it will add a lot of value to my professional brand.

Every person who I share on my public profile are people who have contributed to shaping me as a dancer, choreographer, blogger and the human being that I am today.

My dad’s amazing taste in Sarees!

So I attended my friend’s wedding and wedding reception recently. For the wedding reception I wore a saree which many people seem to have really liked. Therefore, I thought to share that with everyone.

Here is a picture of the saree (Sorry I do not have a proper picture of me in it – and sorry best friend for cropping you out so terribly!):

Everyone’s favourite seems to be the saree. The saree was one which my dad got for me very recently from Sri Lanka. The moment I saw it, I fell in love.

As many of you who follow my Instagram and Blog may know, I am a fan of simple, plain sarees. This saree is a simple one, but with sequins, prints, ombré touches, multi-colours…yet the combination does not look tacky at all. In fact the complete opposite – it looks elegant and sophisticated.

I then paired this saree with a crop top which you all may recognise from before – the one which I wore with my pink/purple ombré saree a couple of weeks ago. And Voila!

So at this point, seeing as it is Fathers’ Day today…thank you Appa having the best taste in sarees and buying ones which make me feel like a Princess! ❤

PS: I am definitely grateful for a lot more than just his ability to select and buy nice sarees! For the purposes of this post however, I did not want to wander into different realms!

Striking the Balance

‘Live a life you love’

Throughout this academic year, I was asked by several people as to how I managed to balance Medicine and Dance the way I did. So here is my answer to those questions.

It’s very easy to stay in the safe zone because of the fear of trying new things out and the challenges they may bring. But this year, with the support of my best friend, I knew I could and would push myself in every avenue.

Medicine brings out my love for learning, and dance brings out my love for performing, choreographing and teaching. Therefore I know that I will work hard to make sure I grew in both areas the way I wanted to.

Several people around me probably thought I was not doing much Medicine this year because I spent so much time doing dance performances and competitions: this includes my family and friends. Oh trust me the number of people who came up to me saying, ‘Praveena, do you even do medicine?’.

When people around me made me question my own abilities to focus on both and succeed in both, the one person who stood by me and pushed me was my best friend. All he said was, ‘If you want to do it, do it. I know you will study hard regardless. And I will be here to support you whatever happens.’ What seemed like the simplest of things, had the biggest impact on me. No one had ever said that to me before, and that’s when I knew that I would be able to do it.

This whole journey came with one big sacrifice: my social life. Yes, I stopped meeting my friends as often and I stopped going out as much. When I had rehearsals for 6 months non-stop, it did exhaust me. I suffered quite a few dance injuries, I was tired. The limited amount of energy I had, I had to reserve for Medicine. Regardless, I stayed strong and pushed through.

I stopped believing in ‘studying’ or ‘revision’; instead I focused all my energy on ‘learning’. I wanted to learn because I loved learning and not because I had to pass exams, although this was naturally a by-product of it. There is no end-point to learning, especially in Medicine. I created my own system of learning and I enjoyed it. In the last month leading up to exams, I remained calm and I opened a book, to learn. I am not going to deny the last minute stress of having to cram bits and bobs because obviously I had an exam that I had to get through, but trust me, I have been in worse scenarios before.

I say all of this because I used to be that medical student who stressed a lot about passing exams and I forgot to enjoy the fact that I am learning some amazing material about the most complex machine in this world – the human body. This year, that changed for me a lot. I saw some peers around me stress the way I used to, and here I was, sat calmly taking every fact/concept I learnt in, and cherishing it. And for this reason, this exam period was the most enjoyable one for me so far, and that reflected in my approach to the exams and my results.

I would like to conclude by honing in on two of the most important take home messages of this blog: firstly, do not be the type of person to stop yourself from doing things you love because you fear the consequences. Secondly, enjoy the process of learning; do not waste your energy stressing so much about the exams that you forget to enjoy the process of learning.

I want to take this opportunity to tell everyone that with the right mind-set you can explore multiple avenues all at the same time and succeed in it as well. I have one more year of university left. I can assure you that I will not stop learning and I will not stop dancing. Every problem I face, I will take as a challenge to help myself grow further.