“As a dance form, people should not associate it with stereotype. It is great to see how men in India are embracing it. It is not a huge percentage but nonetheless it is refreshing to see that it is getting accepted by men.” Arun Bhardwaj, another male belly dancer and founder of Indian Tribal School based in Mumbai, says social media has been a major platform for artists like him.
He claims to have tutored himself by watching videos on social media. “When I told my parents and friends that I wanted to professionally learn this dance form, I was discouraged. But I knew that this is something I was made for,” says Bhardwaj. “When I posted some of my performance videos on social media, I received immense appreciation for my work. In India, people judge you as soon as you tell them you are a belly dancer. However, if you practice classical dancing, they are not as judgmental. But times are changing. People are becoming more open of late and appreciate it when you strive to be different.”