Jaspreet Channa is a bright-eyed and ambitious teenager from Bedford who is currently studying for her GCSE exams. She is bilingual in the language of dance, having studied odissi for nine years with Sanjeevini Dutta and Parvati Rajamani; and kathak for five years from Ricky Sandhu.
What inspired you to start dancing?
My mum always wanted to become a dancer, but she didn’t take advantage of any opportunities. Then she married, settled down and forgot about it. However, it was still in the back of her mind. By the time I was four she had taught me bollywood dance at home. When I was seven she met my first guru, Sanjeevini [Dutta] and it all started from there.
I have two younger sisters who are both quite interested in dance. My youngest sister, aged six, is mostly interested in the ‘other side’ — ballet and bollywood. The other one, aged nine, is fascinated by bharatanatyam, she wants to try something new. In Bedford, not many people know about bharatanatyam and nobody in the family knows much about it either, so she feels it’s a different world.
How often are your classes?
Both classes are weekly, but at the moment I’m struggling. I try to go to odissi once a week but, my Kathak is on hold as it clashes with my GCSEs. Hopefully when my exams finish I can return to both.
Do you ever struggle to balance your schoolwork with dance?
It used to be a major issue. I was all over the place. I used to throw my books aside and practise. Now, I’ve balanced everything — or have tried to at least. Unfortunately, even with the balance there isn’t enough time for kathak.
Besides dance, what are your other hobbies?
I used to play hockey for Bedford, but that stopped a few years ago. I found myself working obsessively, but not going any further. Now, my hobbies are shopping and being with family and friends — normal things for a teenage girl.
Which genre of music are you into?
I listen to a lot of R&B, as well as bhangra and hip-hop. I love the bollywood scene and would have to say a lot of my favourites derive from bollywood. My favourite actor would have to be Hrithik Roshan. He’s fit!
Where do you see yourself in 10 to 15 years?
If I do well in my exams and go to university, I see myself becoming an actress. I find it impossible to see myself doing anything else. Obviously, I’ll still be dancing since a classical background is important to Bollywood.
Jaspreet was interviewed by Purva Kaushik. Purva is an eighteen-year student who sat her A-level exams from Mill Hill County School, in Mill Hill London. Purva looks forward to a gap year before embarking on her graduation studies. She is a kathak student of Gowri Sharma Tripathi with an ‘on-off relationship with dance’.