Dancing his way to ‘World’ stage

Local youth to compete in India chapter of World of Dance competition

Alex Rozario Kharkongor was talking animatedly about dancing and the different genres he is expert in. The medium-sized room in his friend’s house has been turned into a workshop where young dancers like Alex take shelter for a few hours every day. The pop colours on the walls give a jazzy look to the room and elevate one’s mood.

“This is where we practice every day. This belongs to my friend who is a classical dancer,” said the 22-year-old dancer, who has qualified for the World of Dance competition in Chennai.

Kharkongor will represent the North East for the first time in the Indian qualifying round of the global dance competition. “I could not believe my ears when I got the call a few days back. The audition was online and I was sure I would not get the call for the final round of the India qualifiers,” said the dancer and promised to show a few moves after the interview.

An alumnus of St Anthony’s School, Kharkongor started dancing when he was in nursery and would perform at local events. The second of four siblings, he dropped out of school after Class XII because “I was more interested in making a career in dancing”.
“I told my mother that I do not want to pursue studies anymore. Though she was unsure of my decision, she agreed. She has been supporting me all these years,” he said.

Financial problem was always an issue but Kharkongor made sure that his passion never came in the way of his family’s well-being.
“It is a struggle and I have to go a long way to make a prosperous career in dancing but I am confident that one day success will come. My qualifying for World of Dance may be a sign. Having said that, I must admit that the challenge In Chennai is going to be tough as the best dancers from all over the country will compete. The next round is in Los Angeles. Please pray that I reach that level,” he said. The sombre expression on his face changed. Every time Kharkongor spoke about dancing, his face lit up.

Photos by MT & the dancer’s Instagram page

Trained under Ricky Sangma, a former student of renowned choreographer Shiamak Davar, Kharkongor is comfortable with all genres of dancing, including hip hop, lyrical, urban and contemporary. “One has to learn everything, including classical. My friend is training me in the classical form, which is a must for every dancer,” he said.

A national competition is not new for Kharkongor who had earlier participated in Dance India Dance. However, he could not make it to the stage as Michael Syiemiong got selected. “He is a fine dancer and I look up to him. I am also inspired by Dafisha Kharbani, who is like a sister and always guides me,” he added.

Kharkongor — who jokingly calls himself “cocktail” because of his Bengali, Assamese, Nepali and Khasi genes — has travelled to many cities for competitions and “several dancers from other states have encouraged and inspired me”.

“But this competition is going to be the biggest and even if I do not get through, I will get direct entry to any national reality show,” he said.

The Chennai round is on February 9 and 10. Kharkongor will leave the city on February 5. Till then, he is putting in as much time and effort to perfect his moves. What about a short performance then? He agreed readily and asked the lone person in the audience to choose a song. “Ok, I can choose a Bollywood number,” he said and adjusted the sound system.

Kharkongor faced the mirror fitted on one of the walls and started the ‘urban’ style of dancing. He goes into a trance and dances from his heart. It was evident.

When asked about dancers from the region, Kharkongor pointed out that every dancer from the North East is unique and “each one of them inspires me”.

About the challenges, Kharkongor said dancers in other states outside the region are “well-exposed” and have the right connections. “But we in the North East have to start from the scratch. Our exposure to the outer world is less, and hence, we barely have the right contact,” he explained.

But that is hardly a reason for Kharkongor to get distracted. He was already restless for the practice. “I have to give my best. The rest is on Almighty,” he concluded.

~ NM