This edtech startup lets you to dance your heart out while learning from the best
It is amazing how digitisation allows the scope of edtech to go far beyond traditional academic learning. Take for instance, an innovative edtech platform launched by Gurugram-based Divanshi Gupta, that teaches a non-academic yet important skill-based subject – dance.
“We want to build India’s largest extracurricular learning platform that aligns with India’s New Education Policy 2020. We aim to connect the remotest of students in our country with the best teachers across the world."
"By making extracurricular learning accessible, we hope to nurture the minds of students from all economic strata,” says Divanshi when asked about her vision for Ucanji.
Launched in March 2021, this unique web-based platform is aimed at the holistic development of children, which has, unfortunately, suffered as extra-curricular activities have been relegated to the back burner since the advent of the pandemic.
Divanshi recalls her mother taking her from one skill learning class to another when she was a child – whether it was while earning her Prabhakar degree in Kathak or being trained in numerous other dance forms. “My mother invested many years, even sacrificing her career to focus on my holistic learning. The struggle and challenges she faced to find the right classes for me, stayed with me and made me want to eradicate this hurdle by making it easier for parents to find the right classes for their children,” she shares.
Her vision has always been to make learning an accessible, safe, affordable and enjoyable experience for children across the country. Hence, after completing her education at Delhi University, she began her entrepreneurial journey and launched Dance Helpline to bridge the gap between those who wanted to learn and those who wanted to teach.
Through the platform, Divanshi has hosted on-ground talent hunts for Dance India Dance, Dance+, So You Think You Can Dance, and other popular TV shows, while organising workshops with artists of national and international renown. This also gave her the first hand industry experience and knowledge needed to launch Ucanji.
Divanshi also owns an integrated marketing agency called The Marcom Avenue and has worked with brands like Titan, Oppo, Ola, Fujifilm, Nestle and others. Her experience in the field of marketing further helped her with this new venture. She proudly claims, “If you have a dream, leave no stone unturned until you make it a reality!”
How it works
Divanshi describes Ucanji as a cloud-based tech platform that is “the Netflix of learning”. Users pay for unlimited access to a variety of dance courses. Prices start from as low as Rs 3 per day when you pay for an annual membership and go up to Rs 6 per day for a quarterly membership.
“Our aim is to make sure that dance reaches every household, for which affordability and accessibility are the prerequisites. Therefore, we kept the pricing as low as possible,” she says.
The platform also provides an interesting opportunity for teachers to earn from home. A steady monthly income and flexible working hours, without the added responsibility of marketing, logistics or having to invest in physical spaces, makes Ucanji an attractive option.
Classes are taught through virtual dance tutorials and a variety of courses cater to people of all ages and levels, whether they are beginners, or belong to intermediate, advanced or professional groups. Certification is also provided to everyone who enrols on successful completion of the courses at different levels.
From toddlers to those beginning their dance journey at age 40 – everyone is welcome. Currently their youngest student is 5-years-old, and the senior most is 60-years-old, though most fall in the age range of 18-24.
“To anyone who says they can’t dance, we say ‘You Can Ji’!” laughs Divanshi.
Over ten dance forms are currently taught on Ucanji including Hip Hop, Bollywood, Kathak, Bharatnatyam, Bhangra, Popping, Wacking, Tutting, House, Fusion, Open Style, and Ballet, among others, with new ones added every month. Hip Hop and Bollywood are the biggest crowd pleasers of all.
The curriculum is designed to help with a student’s overall growth - emotional, mental, and physical - and not just enhance their dance skills. “I believe that dance can light up your child’s imagination and give wings to their creativity. It will only improve your child’s personality,” exclaims Divanshi.
Over fifty experienced teachers are currently associated with Ucanji. Each one is proficient in their own dance styles and many have represented India on various international stages and platforms.
Teachers are picked after a rigorous five step selection process which focusses on their expertise in their own field, as well as their ability to make tutorials for varied modules that are easy to follow and informative.
A few internationally renowned dancers are also on board, including the likes of Dennis Anthony from MJ5, who was the winner of the show India’s Dancing Superstar, and Ashna Katoch from the movie ABCD.
By providing structured dance courses with step by step tutorials through over 1000 video lessons across dance forms, Ucanji appeals to a wider audience.
“Our plan is to add more skills in the future. We started with dance as the pandemic had taken a mental and physical toll on everyone’s health, and we felt that dance addressed this issue,” says Divanshi. She requests everyone to keep a watch on their social media accounts to stay updated with future activities likely to be added on.
As a digital-first company geared towards on-demand learning, Ucanji has no plans of opening a physical academy. This is certainly serving them well as they have quickly gained registrations from all parts of the country, including numerous 2-3 tier cities, and over 25,000 users since their launch a few months ago.
Divanshi signs off by saying, “We hope to reach millions and millions of households in India with more content so that people can pursue their aspirations and dreams. Ultimately, our goal is to make India the skilling capital of the world!”
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Edited by Anju Narayanan