Shot by Ivin Anthony Content Courtesy: Humans Of Bombay

Navanita’s Story :

“I know I’ll be dancing until my last day and when I go, I’ll go gracefully— and probably strike a perfect Bharatanatyam pose right before!” – says our dancing queen Navanita Parmar

“I grew up in the slums and my entire family was squeezed into 1 small room and a kitchen. My father was a strict man— we had strict rules at home that included reading in our free time and not socializing with friends. As long as it would benefit my future, my father allowed me to participate in everything including dancing— but I was not permitted to take up any classes or formally train. Even without the training, I managed to take part in all dance related events that came my way.

I ended up being a great student and went onto get my masters in Statistics. I got a job in banking after graduation, and as a gift, my father allowed me to take on professional Garba on the side. We were a talented group of dancers and until I got married, we performed in 14 shows— It was a wonderful time.

I had children immediately after marriage and that’s when I thought it best to take a step back from dancing. But somehow, it never left me. Because I myself couldn’t formally learn Bharatnatyam, I enrolled my daughter to live my dream for me. Instead of dropping her to class, I would sit there and watch her learn. After 6 months of watching, I couldn’t help myself— I went up to the teacher after class and asked if I could learn too. To my absolute delight, she was more than happy to teach me, if I was ok with learning with the children — of course I was!

My husband and mother in law were extremely supportive, and my mother in law handled the house while I was at practice.
So, in my 40s, I finally fulfilled my dream of learning Bharatanatyam and after 8 years of training, I finished the course along with my daughter. It was the most beautiful feeling to prepare with her for our final show —I was 50 years old then and all my friends and family came to watch us perform together!

In 1999 a friend and I started our own dance institution. We began with 4 students and overtime we had 40!

In 2001, I retired from banking, but I wanted to do something meaningful with my time. I began to work with a school for the mentally challenged— I’ve been teaching them dance since the last 16 years!

Besides teaching, I still love to perform. I have a group of friends —all senior citizens, whom I have trained, and we perform at every opportunity that comes our way — I’ve participated in a ‘Senior’s Talent Show’ every year for the past 10 years.

Today I am 69 years old and proud to say that my life revolves around my passion. I was born with my love for dance, and although I found it unfair that I wasn’t allowed to pursue it as a child, I now think the timeline was perfect. I never gave up on my dreams and I knew I was born to dance. In fact, I know I’ll be dancing until my last day and when I go, I’ll go gracefully— and probably strike a perfect Bharatanatyam pose right before!”

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