Mumbai: Siblings on a mission to ‘take garba global’

Starting with just five students, Suhrad says the class now has over 1,000 students. The family conducts workshops in different states to impart lessons on “correct” style of doing garba.

Written by Neha Kulkarni | Mumbai | Published:October 2, 2016 1:49 am
garba-759 Suhrad and Jigar Soni, whose family has been running the dance school for the past 18 years. Express Photo by Dilip Kagda

TAKING GARBA GLOBAL has been the tagline of Soni family’s garba classes for the past 18 years. Called Sonis School of Garba Dance, the family claims to have been teaching “real folk dance” to thousands of students who join classes ahead of Navaratri.

“My siblings — Jigar and Nivruti — and I had been playing garba since childhood. The three of us also took lessons in garba, so we know this dance form better than others. On observing how people were being misguided in the name of garba lessons, we realised it was time to step forward and promote real garba,” said Suhrad Soni (33), a software engineer and one of the founders of the school.

Starting with just five students, Suhrad says the class now has over 1,000 students. The family conducts workshops in different states to impart lessons on “correct” style of doing garba.

“We have conducted garba workshops in Chhattisgarh and Gujarat. We believe the need for learning the precise way of garba is what makes us receive so many calls. This dance is an art that needs to be mastered,” Suhrad says. “Traditional garba actually needs to be done around the temple of Ambe ma. It is a dance of claps and thus while dancing, the person’s posture needs to be accurate. We make sure that clean dancing techniques and perfect utilisation of one’s body is imparted through our dance.”

Unlike other classes, Sonis’ school imparts garba lessons all year around, taking almost 70 batches. “It is a beautiful folk dance which can be learnt better with more practice. We want each person to play garba for an hour at least once each day. With the help of able staff and supporting parents, we are able to achieve this goal,” he said.

Having covered almost 11 cities up till now, the aim is to spread this dance form. “The trend among youngsters today is to to learn contemporary or international dance forms because they have a status symbol to it. When we started with garba classes, no one actually believed that it could be taught, but we did it,” says Jigar Soni (41), Suhrad’s brother and another founder of the school.

The brothers have showcased their dance skills at various national and international platforms and have been members of UNESCO-affiliated International Dance Council. When asked if handling jobs and running a school tires them, Suhrad says, “Garba acts as a stress buster. We want everyone to know that garba is a beautiful dance form which deserves better recognition.”