Dancing queen: Nidhi Achha, 23, wins Tutting International Dance Battle

Nidhi Achha, is a dancer from Kurla, Mumbai and she won the Geometric Lady’s Tutt 2 competition. This is an international dance battle which saw female tutting dancers compete from USA, China, Russia, Britain and South Asian countries. She is the only Indian to have participated in this dance battle.

Tutting is a style of street dance that originated from popping. It’s about creating a geometric shape and 90 degree angles with your hands and fingers. It also includes poses seen in Egyptian art and is a play on the name of the child pharaoh King Tut.

“There were two rounds in the final battle and three judges. In the last round the results were very cut to the cut and just a matter of a few points. I was walking home on the subway when the results were announced and there was so much tension. I was stuck doing the math and wasn’t even sure I won until they officially announced it,” says Achha.

Nidhi Acha

Achha says that although she knows many amazing women in the dance community, one of the reasons we don’t see many female dancers is that people are still conservative. “We perform in gardens and other open spaces and sometimes in studios. The dance battles also go on late into the night and having a deadline puts a lot of pressure on a girl to eventually give it up.

Ask her if her family supports her in dancing, especially in such a male-dominated field, she says yes, absolutely. “My mother has always supported me. She was the one who got me into dancing by signing up for classes. And my dad is my biggest supporter. It lasted three weeks and I constantly had to record videos of my dances. He would come back late at night and help me shoot. He never said he was tired if I messed up and had to do another take. In fact, he was critiquing my performance and telling me where I could do better.

The 23-year-old dancer has no plans to become a full-time dancer. She believes you have to do a lot in life to be good at what you are passionate about. As well as juggling four dance teams, she is a full-time social media manager and also a volunteer for an NGO where young people spend time with people in nursing homes, orphanages and homeless shelters. “Managing all of this is a struggle, but the struggle is good,” she says.

However, she believes that there are now many opportunities for dancers and dancing can be a stable career. “Street dancing has grown a lot over the years and continues to grow. There are opportunities and many big brands choose to use real authentic dancers for their advertisements. People choose the right person for the right roles.

Ask her if tutting can actually become mainstream like for example Bollywood dances or classical and she says, “There are so many people in India who do tutting. They would also like to train other people in the style. If it [tutting] is shown in the right place, at the right time, in the right life, I think a lot of people will like to know more about this dance style.