In this edition of the ‘21’ series, we speak with Ravinder Singh Devlas, India’s First Male Pole Instructor and Rashmi Jathan, a Salsa Dancer and trainer at the Terence Lewis Dance Institute
Everything in Pop-Culture from Shahrukh Khan saying, “Kehte hain agar kisi cheez ko dil se chaho ... toh puri kainaat usse tumse milane ki koshish mein lag jaati hai” in Om Shanti Om to Emma Stone saying, People love what other people are passionate about” in La La Land, tells us that its every person’s rite of passage to follow their dream. And do so with all the vigour that they can. This is a story of fruition. It’s about two people from different worlds colliding; finding what they love the most in the world. Finding their passion—Dance.
Meet Rashmi Jathan and Ravinder Singh Devlas, better known as ‘Rashvi’. I met them a couple of months ago and I’ve been intrigued ever since. And this interest peaked when I saw them in Ritviz’s music video for his new song Chalo Chalein. I knew they had the perfect Bollywood Blockbuster story with Dance, Romance, Passion and more. But unlike Bollywood, I was not interested in the fireworks and the success today, as much as I wanted to know about the people behind the success and what they had to go through to become a force to be reckoned with.
Ravinder has been a choreographer and teacher for over 13 years and has worked at the Terence Lewis Professional Training Institute as a Rehearsal Director and Head Supervisor (that’s where he met his business and life partner Rashmi). By many he has been dubbed as the first Male Pole Dancer Instructor of India. He has Choreographed for major brands like Disney along with choreography for A R Rahman’s International Tour, the Mirchi Awards and dance reality shows like Dance India Dance, Nachle with Saroj Khan, and Kashish-Film Festival. He’s won countless national and international awards and scholarships.
Rashmi is a Salsa, Dancehall and Pole trainer. She quit her job at the age of 31 and followed her dreams. She did her training at the Terence Lewis Professional Training Institute and is now a salsa and dancehall Instructor at the Terence Lewis Academy. She’s choreographed for the Smurf 2, along with multiple ads with big brands like Reliance ad Hercules. She also featured in Mika Singh’s Dunk that Junk by MTV. Choreographed and featured in Anushka Manchanda’s. music video by MAX fashion. Together Rashmi and Ravinder (aka Ravi) run a dance school in Mumbai called Rashvidance.
They believe that goals are never ending. You keep growing and adding more and more to your list. The Husband-Wife duo aim to keep upgrading themselves and bring better quality to their students. They want to create more together as a team and to bring Ravinder’s dream project ‘GURUKUL’ to life.
Over time they’ve found inspiration in many places. Ravinder finds inspiration in friends, family and the people he comes across. While Rashmi’s bolts of lightning were Madhuri Dixit and Javed Jaffrey. The bolt that got her back into dancing at the age of 30, when a lot of dancers retire and hang their boots, was salsa and bachata music. “It just touched my soul”, says Rashmi.
“Body image struggles are real, and you’re probably insecure about things you can’t even change. Today, everything is social media. I have lost good projects due to fewer social media followers. So Ravi is pushing me to be more active on social platforms and is helping me create content for them,” narrated Rashmi about her strife.
Ravinder also expressed how there are a lot of misconceptions and stigmas about pole dancers. It’s something that is looked down upon and is exclusively associated with being effeminate or a prostitute. Rashmi added, “It’s 2020 stripper stigma is going away. Obviously there is always going to be a stripper aspect to pole, but that is just one element of it. Also, my north Indian in-laws are also very supportive of me teaching pole. Times are changing,”
“My parents thought that putting all my savings and my job at stake for dance was the most stupid decision I’ve made. Lack of family support— financial and emotional— was a major hurdle. The problem often comes down to money, since dance training does not come cheap,” said Rashmi about her parents’ reaction to her decision to quit her job to pursue dance. She continued, “Dance is often viewed as a hobby. Parents desire something that is more stable or lucrative a profession for their kids. Or they simply fear the heartache of seeing their child struggle for a career they don't fully understand.” Ravinder added to it by saying, “But they came to terms with it in some time. With the passage of time and after seeing us work passionately they understood where we were coming from.”
Advice for Young Dancers
Rashmi: Hardships in the right direction will never get you down. Dancers who keep pushing for an artist's life despite familial strains, find the payoff is worth the struggle.
Ravinder: Just be disciplined and follow your passion without a doubting yourself.
Check out Ravinder’s YouTube Channel: CLICK HERE
You can also follow them on Instagram: @ravindersinghdelvas and @rashmijathan82
About the 21 series:
On the 24th of March 2020 the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi announced a nation-wide lock-down for 21 days to fight the pandemic that is the Corona Virus. Citizens mustn’t leave their homes unless absolutely essential. This series aims to bring to the readers 21 positive stories through this 21-day lock-down. Something to inspire them to keep at it and come back out of this horrific tragedy stronger.
If you have an inspiring story or know someone whose story the world must know, get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org