TipTapToe: A contemporary camaraderie

TipTapToe, a result of six childhood friends’ passion for dance, is the latest dance company in the city

Dressed in gold, black and red, the girls stare down unsparingly into the camera.

They move forward in a V-formation, placing one sure foot after the other, as the drums of ‘Mahishmathi’ from Baahubali resound. Until the one in the middle moves forcefully backwards and the others surround her to transform themselves into a seven-horse chariot, raring for war.

And thus ends the performance by TipTapToe, a dance company still in its nascent stage. “We consider this a reunion of old friends,” says 28-year-old choreographer Ishwarya Balabharthy, of the six-member dance group comprising her sister Varsha Balabharthy and childhood best friends: Archana Raja, Shri Varsha, Vidya Krishnamoorthy, and Varsha Jayalakshmi, all in their early twenties.

For them, TipTapToe was a dream long time in the making. Chips in Sri Varsha, “We have been dancing since our school days. But after college, we took up different jobs, in different cities. We finally met after two years, and thought, why not do it over dance!”

Encouraged by the positive response to their first dance video, on ‘Breakup Song’ on social media, the group decided to finally give wings to what they had been planning to do since they were in school: start a dance group together, despite having day jobs. “This time, we wanted to do somethingmore serious, so we selected ‘Mahishmathi’,” says Ishwarya. Thedance sequence is a fusion of contemporary and Bharatanatyam — an ode to the women in the Indian Army.

“TipTapToe will be a place where you can experiment with different styles of dance, and mix them together,” says Ishwarya. All the six dancers learnt Bharatanatyam at their school, Padma Sheshadri Bala Bhavan (PSBB) in KK Nagar. However, each of them has also explored other styles such as hip hop, contemporary, and Bollywood. “If you are trained classically, you adapt to other dance forms very easily,” says Archana. Adds Shri Varsha, “Classical dancers don’t experiment much with other styles, because of the myth that if they do, they will lose perfection in their art.”

A mutual love for dancing was the basis of their friendship. “We have known each other since LKG!” exclaims Varsha B. “We have stayed up until 2 am practising at each others’ houses. Our moms would pack tiffin for all of us, because they knew we’d be together all the time.”

At school, every student knew them to be an inseparable group. “Imagine spending all day together at school, and then later for practice,” says Ishwarya. “Our playground was our dance class,” she says, “During summer vacations, Varsha and I would rather just stay home with our friends and dance.”

Come family functions, Ishwarya and her sister Varsha, would be prodded by their parents to put together a dance. “Varsha can dance really well, she’s just lazy,” Ishwarya reprimands her as only an elder sister can, while Varsha shrugs her shoulders and rolls her eyes as a younger sister is wont to do.

Building a partnership

Once out of school, the friends continued performing together for various cultural fests despite studying in different colleges. And that meant road trips. “We have travelled all over India in buses, cars and trains,” says Ishwarya. “We have run after trains in our costumes,” laughs Varsha. Picture goddess Amman negotiating with the TTE for an unreserved ticket.

She recalls how they travelled across Tamil Nadu; Chidambaram, Thanjavur, Nagapattinam, for the Natyanjali Festival, where, they were supposed to dance well into the night. “We performed non-stop, and slept with our make-up on. Once I took the namaskar position on stage, I just fell asleep there!” laughs Varsha. This camaraderie, explains Shri Varsha, is what helped the group start a dance company without any glitches. “We complement each other on stage, and the audience gets that.”

Follow TipTapToe @tttdanceteam or mail [email protected] for bookings.

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