How India’s first-ever government-recognised dance startup is promoting dance for wellness
Famous American dance Martha Graham once said, “Dance is the hidden language of the soul.”
The health benefits of dancing are innumerable. One of the oldest forms of art, dancing not just bolsters physical health, but also helps improve mental health, uplifts the mood, and eases anxiety. In step with this idea, professional dancer Pulkit Sharma, along with friend and business partner Yatan Ahluwalia, founded You Can Dance! in January 2020.
Pulkit Sharma, professional dancer, Creative Director and Co-founder of You Can Dance!
You Can Dance! was started with the mission to deliver wellness through the medium of dance, laying extensive emphasis on wellness in all dance modules. “We endeavour to make dance wellness accessible to everyone — regardless of age, ethnic background, or sexual orientation,” Yatan Ahluwalia, Co-founder, Chief of Operations, and Partner at You Can Dance! tells YS Weekender during an exclusive interview.
“We are promoting dance not just as an art form, but a way to achieve overall wellness,” he adds.
Gurugram-based You Can Dance! is the first dance company to be recognised as a startup by the Government of India.
Meet the team
Pulkit has been a dancer all his life. “One of my first memories of dance goes back to when I was 13 years old. I received the first prize in a dance competition. It started with one trophy and now we have over 250 trophies and certificates on the office wall,” he says.
Trained in various styles and art forms including ballet, contemporary, hip-hop, street dance, and urban, Pulkit recently trained at Flying Steps Academy in Berlin. He has performed in India’s Got Talent (Season 8), and other dance reality shows including Dancing Superstar and Big Celebrity Challenge International, and has appeared in TV shows on Zee TV and Colors TV. In 2019, Pulkit performed solo at the Summer Dance Festival in Berlin.
Yatan, on the other hand, is a grooming consultant, and has worked with leading hotels, airlines, banks, retail chains, luxury brands, and hospitals. He is a Partner and Chief of Operations of Y&E Consultancy & Services, Director and Editor of Pacific Area Travel Writers Association, an affiliate of the UNWTO, and Co-founder and Partner ofLLP.
Yatan and Pulkit (L-R), Co-founders of You Can Dance!
As the Creative Director of You Can Dance!, Pulkit created the moves and modules, chose the music and songs, and trains the team for each and every class. As the Chief of Operations, Yatan structures the commercials, schedules, tie-ups, brand associations, and does the scheduling as well as builds its market base.
The dance startup has a team of four people in operations and a team of six skilled and handpicked trainers.
One step at a time
The duo set up their first studio in DLF Phase 1, Gurugram in January last year. Within almost three months, You Can Dance! already counted 50 regular members. Unfortunately, the startup had to shut operations in March-end, 2020 due to the pandemic.
“We took this opportunity to rethink and rework our strategy with the changing scenario...As soon as the lockdown was lifted, people were yet reluctant to step out, so we offered dance wellness at their doorstep,” Yatan says.
The team hired, and then extensively trained a team of trainers to visit its clients at their homes, for the sessions. “This was a refreshing change for clients who had little physical movement during the lockdown,” he adds.
You Can Dance! now conducts sessions for individuals, friends, and even a couple of families, with its membership recording a jump by the day. The dance startup presently functions on both an onsite and offsite model, with its flagship studio operational in DLF Phase 1.
“For the offsite model, we send our dance trainers to embassies, offices, residential buildings, condominiums, and clubs, to conduct regular classes,” Yatan adds.
Dance for all
You Can Dance! offers a signature module of dance fitness, designed and curated by Pulkit. The dance module offers a mixture of jazz, modern, contemporary, and other genres. “We have applied to patent this,” Yatan says.
Explaining the modules, Pulkit says, “The movements are fluid and graceful, with an emphasis on overall wellness. At the end of a dance wellness session, one will feel positive, recharged, refreshed, active, and energetic. Dance wellness targets the entire body — face, neck, hands, arms, back, legs, feet, as well as isolations and breathing techniques — making the entire experience both wholesome and complete.”
The dance startup’s key demographic is individuals aged 30 and above, as well as the 60-plus age group, since both have high purchasing and spending power. It caters to the upper-middle-class, rich, and extremely rich sections of society. Presently, You Can Dance! has both men and women as clients, in a 30:70 ratio.
You Can Dance!’s youngest member is four years old, and the eldest is 86 years old. “One of our core beliefs is that it is never too early or too late to start dancing,” he says.
The dance business
While the founders do not wish to reveal the identity of its celebrity members, You Can Dance! conducts classes at five high-end residential complexes in Gurugram; a leading private luxury members-only club; and for associates of hotels, airlines, banks, embassies, and hospitals. Its first corporate dance wellness client was Taj Hotels. It also conducts sessions for diplomats of two EU commissions in New Delhi.
It has built its reputation and its entire member base through word of mouth and individual references. You Can Dance! leverages social media platforms to create awareness about dance wellness.
According to Yatan, You Can Dance! is presently growing its revenue 100 percent month-on-month, with members doubling every month.
Bootstrapped since inception, You Can Dance! will be open for funding from April 2021, in line with its future projections and expansion plans. “Our future plans include opening more dance wellness studios, franchises, and launching dance merchandise and other wellness offerings,” Yatan says.
Besides India, You Can Dance! plans to have a base in Berlin, Germany.