Rural Outreach, Dhasa, India

Rural Outreach, Dhasa, India

Our Junoon first began with this endeavour in Rural Saurashtra. It grows every day, all over the region of Dhasa and beyond, reaching more village Girls and Women, bringing them one step closer to Classical Movement and the supporting Arts and Sports.

We have summaries of our first 11 outreach experiences recorded in the table below.

The APPEALS section of our site will give you more insight into how we hope to expand our scope here.


Junoon conducted its first ever on-field operation in the village of Gopalgram, a division of erstwhile Dhasa situated in the State of Gujarat in India.

For a fortnight through September-October 2021, Junoon conducted its first ever on-field operation in the village of Gopalgram, a division of erstwhile Dhasa situated in the State of Gujarat in India.

This program inducted girls inhabiting the region into the wonders and rigours of Classical Dance – both Bharata Natyam and Classical Ballet – as well as Artistic Fitness.

We were fortunate to have girls in the age range of 9 to 15 enrol into the program as those are the very ages at which their bodies can best be prepared, conditioned, moulded and driven to deliver their best, going forward.

Our girls were stunningly responsive, dedicated and deft at picking up on an art form they had barely had any exposure to hitherto this program.

Towards the end of the program, we had set up structures and systems to ensure the girls could persist with their practice until our return. They have been training earnestly ever since. We are with them in spirit, monitoring remotely as best as we can. And we can’t wait to go back!


We returned to Dhasa to work with a focused group of 16 girls this time round. 16 sunny smiles that powered through a grueling rehearsal schedule.

And although it was heartbreaking to narrow the lot down to that figure, we had to carefully select only those whom we thought would be able to take on the rigours that lie ahead.

This lot was a force to reckon with.
(And we never, for one second, doubted that when they were chosen.)

They have practiced like professionals, danced their hearts out and limbs off, been in discomfort and yet showed up to class and really fought for their place in this lot!

They have laughed and cried and persevered through so much pain and hard work as the rigors of Classical Dance opened up to them more than before.

They’ve trained like only girls can.
And this, as we all know, is just the beginning.

We’re seeing Classical Dance find home in big hearts and pretty, little girls, here in this rural heartland.
And it’s simply gratifying!

What a lesson for us this has been.
Kids teach you. In more ways than are acknowledged.
And they make you want to show up and shape up, no matter what!

To them, we owe our Rural Outreach 2.0
If it wasn’t for their effort and unflinching commitment, this week-long endeavour at the end of November would’ve been very different.

Until we meet again, practice, please!
And surprise us, again!


Our girls pushed through what must’ve been one of the most intense experiences of their lives.
We can’t deny it was tremendously hard for us too.
The basics of any Classical Dance form are never easy.
And we feel the pain every single time we have to get through them.
This round of our Rural Outreach Program, in Dhasa, was all about absorbing the fundamentals, one step at a time.

It has been a slow, cruel, admittedly annoying grind.
And we have all felt drained and dog tired, particularly towards the end.

The classes and all the time in preparation has been a nasty test of our collective endurance, our ability to absorb and execute technique, our capacity to constantly push in the face of fatigue and every ache conceivable in our muscles and joints.

The girls have been introduced to fundamentals in a more nuanced manner. With hawkeye focus on coordination, precision and muscle engagement. This, for both dance forms – Bharata Natyam and Classical Ballet.
They have pulled through preparatory sequences to be able to perform these fundamentals and those in themselves are pretty exhausting.
Well, that’s where the stamina builds!

True, the girls are tough beyond compare.
Few could have kept up as they have.
But they have tasted the bitter, bitter world of unrelenting, repetitive, painful practice.
They’ve survived.
They’ve also hurt in places, like never before.
But they’ve survived.
And today, they smile.
Because they’ve grown to understand what Classical Dance necessitates.
And they’ve seen where sincere, earnest effort has brought them.

We have never felt the need to be more apologetic for coming down on them so harshly.
In the same breath, we have also never seen a bunch of children who have come so far in such a short while, performing technique as perfectly as they do.
And so, we only thought we would give to them, what is rightfully theirs – everything they could and should take.
They took it, like only girls can.
And they make shapes in space, like only practiced dancers do!

This army of girls is going places with all their straight lines and lengthened movements and rigorous, regular and structured practice.
But first, they will and they must rest and play and run free for a bit.
We will see them soon after!


We found ourselves in Dhasa at the toughest time of year – Summer. A harsh, unrelenting, merciless Sun has shown us all a very hard time and it’s definitely going to take us all a while to come back from our baked states.

Despite the scorching heat, this has also been our most successful Outreach, with the girls pushing against the Sun with purpose and practice.

Sometimes, the harshest conditions reveal our truest and latent strengths. We saw heat turn into light through the girls’ sincere practice, genuine love for dance and their every inclination toward Classical Dance.

They went for the basics, combinations and their very first tryst with choreography in both Bharata Natyam and Classical Ballet.
And when it all got too hot and stuffy, they plunged into the vibrant world of Folk Dance with a Garba session thrown in nearly every day in class, which was refreshing and engaging!

Their foundations are getting stronger. We see a future where these actually go on to become unwavering. The attention to detail, the sync with beat, the appreciation of melody – all creeping in, slowly but surely.

We are loving seeing them grow. This extreme experience has been a massive lesson for us too:
In how to keep our smiles and heads together despite external, uncontrollable circumstances doing everything they can to drain and strain our bodies and minds and douse our spirits. Children can be charmingly care-free and yet, committed. Indeed a paradox to aspire to!

It has been no fairy story, training under such weather conditions.
But then again, we knew we were building warrior princesses.
And we have them.
Right before us and ready!

They’ve come through.
As athletes – with all the running, stretching, strengthening and conditioning;
As dancers – lengthening and going the whole way in two classical forms and a fresh learning of Folk Dance;
As artistes – hardworking, spirited, imaginative and hungry for more.

They have fought, like only they could and should!
And they’ve shown us that a little Junoon every day amounts to the lot you need to make it all happen, never mind the sweltering heat, the scorching Sun and the sapping day.
All these princesses will ever take from the Sun is the light that shines in their eyes and smiles and energy for their limbs to perform.
This Junoon has given us that lesson in extremes – one that made us all quite indestructible and our Dance more Classical.

What lies ahead is sweet breeze, solid sleep and a sweeping re-engagement with the Art forms.
Only then may we begin to dream of the possibility of a smoother sweat – one that completes without depleting.
After all, the only way to survive Summer is to move and dance and sweat and smile through the burn that makes us glow like only Classical Dancers can.

Until we meet our warriors again,
May they remain so,
And train like only girls can,
With that stunning tan!


We walked into a very pleasant surprise (not that it was entirely unexpected) as we enter another year of our Rural Outreach.

The girls have grown to be strong, enduring, quicker and more capable dancers.

This past year – the four Outreach stints preceding this one – has been a massive foundational stone to their overall growth.

The schools they come from tell us they are performing so well academically as well, attributing it pretty plainly to their improved physical fitness and thorough involvement with the Arts – a happy diversion and an overall performance enhancer.

In the early part of the week through which this Outreach was conducted, we ran auditions and selected a bunch of girls newly admitted into their next academic years. These girls worked swiftly and simultaneously with our first and original batches of girls to level up and are nearly up to speed with them.

We are so happy to be working with more little ones, athletically and artistically. The same joy, the same sense of wonder, the same drive finding us and them as we work together to build a pretty solid future for Classical Dance.

We revised everything we knew. We found new ways and tricks to practice our technique and polish it even further. We made it through different athletic workouts – running, building stamina as we went along, bettering speed, seemingly more agile. We worked our core and muscles and have come to be more flexible. Most notably, we were less tired, more eager, laughing and smiling more and completely in it, together!

The girls have even seen glimpses of the many movement combinations that lie ahead. And are keenly looking forward to learning them!

They inspire us, enliven us and make us want to be better for them. We’ve come to see just how much of our Junoon is because of them.

All in all, a very productive time and a very proud feeling witnessing how far our girls have come. We are seeing, now more than ever, the fruits of their toil, our labour, their consistency and our belief.

So long as they keep with their practice, work with those hearts full of Junoon and grin and bear it all,
There’s no telling how far they can go!

Until we meet again,,
May our little stars dance and shine and dance and shine,
Moving precisely along the path to becoming artistes so fine.


We arrived in Dhasa towards the latter part of Navaratri, a nine-night festival where a Warrior Goddess is celebrated through the fervent dancing of a Folk Dance form named Garba.

This meant we were not only dancing Garba in the classroom in addition to Classical Dance but also dancing with our girls through the night, all over the village.

Situated in the heartland of Gujarat, Dhasa was the breeding ground of Garba and Raas. Hence, Navaratri is an electric time to be here! And we couldn’t sit still, no matter what the time on the clock!

We have to give it to our girls for showing up like they did. And we have so much to learn from their energies, enthusiasm, endurance as they remained on their feet and moving, night and day, no matter how much sleep they’d had and how intricate their practice got – an inevitability as they move steadily along. Never mind that groggy morning faces are an enigmatic mix of cute and monstrous. And it takes some goading to get them to smile through the pain of practice. Especially, when it’s getting hard.

It was a true joy to behold the true joy on their faces as they danced the Folk Art form that was cradled in their soil, in class and outside. They have a JUNOON that’s hard to come by.

In class, they came through several preparatory exercises and sequences to stretch, strengthen, lengthen and increase muscle tone; Athletic training and of course, revision and more work in the Classical Dance forms of Bharata Natyam and Ballet.

Folk Dance being a focus area of Junoon, from the word go, they took heartily to choreographed sequences that incorporated Bharata Natyam movement transitioning seamlessly in and out of Garba steps, one giving enough space to the other, without diluting the authenticity of either.

What was astonishing was their swift pick up of choreography! They were so excited to be dancing to Gujarati Folk music and it was quite amazing to set Classical as well as Folk movement to it, all within the same song! A serendipitous effect of changing the music around or introducing a new genre of music has been that they have even begun to count beats and better figure out rhythmic patterns and cycles. Sometimes, a diversity in music can spring surprises! It’s certainly going to do wonders for their responses to and understanding of Classical Music that fits and syncs with Classical Dance.

The girls worked tremendously hard. And they did it with a smile through most times. Their practice is only going to get more detailed, more complex and they had a sense of that this time round. They’re seeing how crucial conditioning and consistency are to their practice and performance of Classical Dance. And they’ve also seen how beautifully balanced their training can become when paired with Folk Dance forms.

Garba takes grace, control, strength, passion, endurance and abandon. That’s not very different from Classical Dance. And our girls have the chops for it all. We’ve seen more than just glimpses of it, well over a year into this Outreach Program.

What’s more! A select bunch of them even underwent more specialized training for their added efforts and enthusiasm. They’re an inspired lot, willing to take on the challenges, the pain and joy that come with learning new steps, combinations and fundamentals. And they have been inspiring in their perseverance to gain more, do more, be more!

They’re getting stronger and a step closer to the dancers we see them becoming – gifted, glorious and gorgeous. Which is precisely why we need to be more conscious of their recovery, rest, nutrition and hydration.

As planned, we spoke at length about replenishing their bodies, eliminating negative body image, regulating their appetites, a dancer’s dietary requirements and getting in the nutrients they need to be able to dance well into their futures. They’ve promised to care for themselves more.

That puts us at ease.
And now, it’s time for us all to rediscover our clocks because the JUNOON went pretty berserk this time round, all round.
Dancing night and day.
Garba, Bharata Natyam, Ballet, and Garba again!
But we’re all allowed to break the rules and break free every now and then.
Why, for all that Dance breaks us, liberates us and then, puts us back together.

Until next time,
May our little warrior goddesses continue to be the fiery, unstoppable, free,
incandescent beings that keep our JUNOON intact.


“PLAY” was the theme we set for our Seventh stretch.
In addition to dancing, we wanted them to play to make profound discoveries within and outside of their bodies. As Classical Dancers, they need to fly and fall and frolic and freewheel to understand the limitations of their bodies and push past them.

Amid sessions of practice as usual and the introduction of new (to them!) fundamental movements, we made up games and played the more conventional ones – relays, skipping races, soccer, etc. – as these worked beautifully to condition our bodies as well.

A very reputed sports brand paid us a visit, here in the village and came to the premises that houses our studio and classes, to deliver sport and fitness gear to our girls. They received it most graciously, with glee and gratitude.

They also brought with them coaches that familiarized our girls with not just the equipment but also the basics of games like Football, Ultimate Frisbee and other drills that build team spirit alongwith sports’ skills. The village and Junoon look forward to welcoming then again, very soon and continuously.

Throughout this week-long Outreach Program, as we brushed up on everything we knew and learnt things and skills and moves anew, The girls laughed and tumbled and fell and got back up and high-fived one another as they played (err…worked) as a fiery team, picking each other up, energizing one another and most notably, goading one another to try one more time in addition to filling in the gaps for each other – a striking dance of balancing out the strengths and weaknesses of one another, so that no one fell behind.

There was so much to learn from this positive energy exchange amongst the girls. Competitive and passionate as they were, they played to lift each other up! Now that’s teamwork, making a dream like Junoon work – a fire, an exuberance and a dance that uplifts, expands and spreads like a smile.

What haven’t we done together?!
Athletic training with our Junoon junior and senior track teams, team sports and competitive drills – ranging from ‘Langdi’ to balancing on a beam to plié-ing with stretch bands gripped atop our heads.

So, have they danced? Yes!
Our training in Classical Dance persisted as usual – with the basics of Ballet and more basics of Bharata Natyam and the introduction of some very initial Contemporary Dance movements.
But even more than that, they’ve played to their heart’s content until their bodies and minds found the nimbleness they need to be the Classical Dancers they can well be!

May we never forget how much “PLAY” our Junoon really is; a powerful, fiery, friendly exchange that enables our Dance.
Well, we’ll have the girls remind us!

Until we see them before either of us knows it, they will “PLAY” well into and through their practice and treat it like the game it is meant to be!
“Dance and ‘Play On’ Girls!”.
This is the Classical, Lethal, Artsy, Sporty combination you’re here to be!


We have just come through our Eighth Rural Outreach spell, here in Dhasa. Although every single one of our girls is inspiring in their own way, there are two in this Junoon squad photograph whose stories need to especially be told.

Through a morning run on what was to be our last day in training together this time round, Sunita and Khushi (both aged 14) tell me their daily routine. They awake every morning at 4am to cook, clean, work the fields, feed and dress their younger siblings for school and then bicycle to school.

When school is out, they pedal back home, only to return to the same list of activities that they wake up to, as dusk approaches.

It is 10pm by the time their household and farm chores end. If the electricity hasn’t failed them, they will then read or study. Else, sing themselves to sleep. Only to awaken well before dawn again and repeat the same cycle.

As I try to navigate a multitude of emotions, – guilt, anger, sympathy and sadness – I only react with a question,
“Why then are you both attending Junoon? It must be so much more exhausting. So much more difficult to add to your day!”

The Program we run here is in no way easy or relaxing. The girls are in training for hours on end – Running (Athletics), Strengthening, Conditioning, Stretching, Dancing Classical Dance and other forms, Playing team sports (most recently, Football) and going through multiple other drills for added Agility, Balance, Length, Endurance and Control. And this they repeat, day after day, when amid an Outreach spell.

To my question and concern and completely disconcerted face, they simply answer, “Because all those things at home we do for our families, for other people whereas Junoon, we’re doing for ourselves.”

Staring at a Sun settling into and setting up the day with slightly moist eyes, I think, “This is inspiration. This is Junoon.”

We are, because of our girls.


Our Ninth Rural Outreach, conducted in wintry Dhasa in the February of 2023, has been our most annoyingly technical yet. It couldn’t have been any other way since our girls are now beginning to “Prepare to Perform”.

Performing is a journey. And very often, managing your mind allows the body to fall into play and place. It is a journey because the final act is a culmination of all the mental and physical preparation along the way.

Our girls here are strong, technical, agile and graceful but integrating these very qualities into a performance that reflects all of the above, requires involvement, confidence and repetitive work which will make their proposed performance routines so practiced that they flow almost naturally and fluidly as they are meant to.

Our Outreach Program focused on processes that saw them work on every kind of movement, engaging every relevant part of their body with intention and concentration. So that a performance ultimately, no longer feels like one. It is simply them dancing Classical Dance, ready for an audience to receive it.

They came through their fundamentals, small choreographed sequences, body preparation for both Classical Dance forms – Classical Ballet and Bharata Natyam, strengthening and stretching, Athletics, Yoga, Pilates, other training drills and a very pointed focus on technique, where literally every point and flex and stretch of the limbs was scrutinized.

This stint comprised no fun and games. We all meant serious business. Because technique training can’t be any other way. We can only imagine how frustrating, frying and fatiguing it must have all been. Because we felt it too. Technique is boring because how monotonous and seemingly endless the process of fully absorbing it is. But no performance is possible without a command over it. It is what differentiates a dancer and makes her unparalleled. So, we had to all swallow our tears today, to be able to shine tomorrow.

For all the training they have now come through, Performing the art form one practices is the natural, logical, inevitable next step. And our girls here are itching for it; we just have to make sure they are absolutely and amazingly ready to blaze. With courage, humility.

But always, with Junoon.

And slowly but steadily, we are getting performance ready!

It was both surprising and inspiring how their smiles remained intact until that last training session with the setting sun. It told us their Junoon is here to stay no matter how tough, how rough and how painfully boring, hard and impossible training gets. And there, in that light in their eyes, we rediscovered our Junoon.

Until our next time together,
We wish our girls rest, recreation and steadfast memories of every
correction so that it is thoroughly practiced, to very soon be performed.


We have just come through our Tenth Rural Outreach Program, here in Dhasa.
We’re at a pinnacle of sorts, not simply because we’ve hit double digits but more significantly because our girls performed their very first showcase, titled
“FIRE” at the end of this particular stint. And it was FIRE all along.

FIRE was performed.
FIRE was felt.

FIRE was lit by our girls in Red.

Pretty much all our time this time round was put into rehearsing for Performance Day.
We picked FIRE to pay tribute to because it is an element of both extremes – turbulence and calm. Bharata Natyam is also the ‘Dance of Fire’ and Classical
Ballet too can be fiery in its many choreographies and renditions. And yet, both Art forms allow moments of steadiness, holds and poise.
It is almost logical that our first showcase was also an ode to the Goddess of Fire for we credit her for all our intensity, passion, madness and obsession – our Junoon.

The performance was a culmination and synopsis of sorts of everything they have gathered through every single one of our Outreach Programs thus far. They danced the Classical Dance forms they have come to know – Classical Ballet and Bharata Natyam as well as showcased the routines and preparation that has worked them up to this stage.

Their bodies, stances and expression beamed with clarity, precision and confidence.

Come show day, our girls performed before their own as well as neighbouring villagers. And it was most heartrending to see our audience full of school children. They are the future. Of Art, Culture and everything.

In fact, we had to perform our sets twice to accommodate all the crowd that wanted to come and watch. So, the girls had a double performance!

The crescendo of our Tenth Rural Outreach has been met.

This is Junoon.
We are Junoon.
This is our Junoon.

And yes, while our Tenth has concluded,
And yes, while we want our girls to glow in and with their own FIRE – one they have set.
What they have also set is the bar high for themselves.
Why, with the kind of applause and appreciation they have received.
So, it is important for them to know, what a long way there is yet to go.

Hence, until we meet again,
Regain to Re-Go Girls!


Our 11th Outreach marks a major transition from initial to advanced training for a select few who have steadfastly held onto their practice since our first time here in Dhasa in September 2021.

We enter a solid spell of foundational training wherein alignment is at the centre of it all. It is super tricky for them and us. Alignment is such a specialized area of correction that every one of our girls will be incorporating it into their bodies differently.

This is simply because our bodies are differently designed. For the very first time, they will see their differences rather than looking at themselves, as a collective, as they thus far have. And rightly so! We always begin as a squad, if we’re lucky enough to and then we find our niches from there.

As trainers/coaches/mentors/demonstrators, it is an extremely intimidating endeavour to undertake as there is only one way to effect alignment – correctly. Our attention has to be steady, present, all there and unflinching. As does the girls’. It is not easy working with different body conditions, shapes, physiques and abilities. As agile as our girls may be, they all have their quirks and weaknesses and strengths – most of which they will not share.

We do too. And it has taken us years and years of streamlining our bodies in order make our dance as efficient as it can be. And we are still at it. Every day, every time we dance. That simply is the nature of the beast (and beauty!) that is Classical Dance.

So, every class is a separate set of corrections specific to each little dancer. But they are smiling. We are smiling.
And how gratifying is it to get here!!!

Advanced training. Alignment. Gosh, Junoon better be getting its best game on! Let’s do this girls. And like our favourite mentors (Sleek Technique) say it, “Let’s get Sleek!”


Our entry into alignment territory is taking us places we never saw ourselves going. We are learning how to hold ourselves straight and do justice, just as well, to our bends and curves. Are our limbs making the right angles, never mind that they aren’t all meant to be “right angles”? Are we grounded firmly on our mats and floors so as to keep our bodies stable when we’re attempting some wild, wacky, weird balance work?

And then, even as we make those strange moves, are we aligned and correct and are our postures erect?

Demonstrative teaching is a huge part of our training ethos. We do not simply stand and stare and instruct our girls to dance. We dance, continuously, with them, for them and by their side as they navigate these complex Classical Art forms.

We constructed a routine that the girls could simply copy and flow to, all the while being conscious of their backs and bends and openness and the inescapable necessity to stretch far and wide and with an abandon (far from reckless) so so focused.

They went along beautifully. And it puts us at ease to know, assuredly, that they will be carrying this ease, this precision, this abandon into their practice of Classical Dance.

We flowed to a Gujarati song we have come to love so much – “Vhalam Aavo Ne” – come to us, like love does, beating and fluttering and with flying feet – just like Classical Dance.

As we close our 11th Rural Outreach, we think it crucial to communicate its excruciating details that we often cannot envisage as an audience that is simply beholding performance after performance and expecting more.

It was well past 42°C when we began this Outreach and the temperature has steadily increased. We work on days and through spells when the electricity runs out, without complaint. Because we have to. In the dry heat of Gujarat, our girls have been nothing but warriors, soldiering on for everything their practice is worth.

Our girls are put through a rigorous athletic regimen every single day of their dancing lives and otherwise.

They run to loosen up and warm up and to transition between sets of core, strength and agility work. And of course, to build that key quality without which nothing unusual is possible – stamina. Classical Dance requires an unimaginable amount of it, all year round, in all types of weather and mental conditions.

Warmer, more enduring bodies function better and are more able to reflect the symmetry in movement demanded by Classical Dance.

As their postures and lines even out, as their bodies lengthen, they do have to, for the purpose of better technique in both Bharata Natyam and Classical Ballet, get used to working with a Barre.

We use chairs to better understand Pliés, Tendus and other minute, larger, incredible movements in the different Ballet positions. And for added support. For every conventional Ballet class begins with Barre work. The girls are gradually getting used to this contraption and deciding for themselves, just how reliant they must be on the barre.

Our demonstrative teaching continues. Because, once they’re off the barre, they must learn to dance free of it, in the centre.

Anyway, this Outreach has been tiring. Advanced training, any step up for that matter, feels like it’s pulling one many steps behind, because a universe of hardship, new challenges and seemingly unattainable movement goals suddenly appear. We will have to rewire to become friends with our Art again. Or may be, with enough hours put in and impetus, our dance will flow, many notches higher, more Classically than ever!