My IIFA Journey!

"Take a Chance, You Never Know Where It Could Lead You" 

IIFA Background

For those of you who don't know, IIFA stands for International Indian Film academy Awards! For a crazy movie enthusiast (especially Hindi movies) like myself, its basically the most dreamy, star-studded event of the year. Every year, this Awards Show is in a different part of the world; in 2015 it was in Malaysia, in 2016 in Spain, and last year, in 2017 it was in New Jersey, USA in July! 

My Journey

I took a chance on myself and my talent. It was July of 2017, and I had just graduated UC Davis in June. I was still looking for a job, and as a result, I had too much free time that I would basically just spend dancing in my sun room, hanging out with friends, or applying to jobs. 

Also, let it be known that I was completely obsessed with BhangraFunk's Shivani Bhagwan and Chaya Kumar's choreography (If you haven't, go watch their videos, they are AMAZING)! I watched every single one of their videos, and learned almost every one of their routines. When I was looking through their Instagram stories one day, I saw that they said they would be performing at IIFA and they were holding auditions for dancers in the LA Area to build a group to go with.

I saw that and didn't think to audition at all at the time, because obviously I wasn't based in the LA area. A few hours later, I was telling my mom about this and she immediately said "You're literally sitting at home doing nothing, why don't you just audition? The worst that can happen is that you won't get in; at least you tried." I thought about it for a little bit, and then decided I would finally just go for it. If I got it, it would be the opportunity of a lifetime! If not, at least I tried.

Here is part of my audition video below for you guys! 

To my GREAT surprise, I was selected to perform with the BhangraFunk crew at the the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey! I was so nervous but extremely excited! All of my little girl dreams were coming true! To prepare, all of the dancers had to be in LA for about two weeks prior to flying to New Jersey to train. 

Once in LA, I was more nervous than excited. I knew no one there and everyone in the group was so accomplished already. To my surprise, however, everyone was extremely welcoming and sweet, especially Shivani and Chaya!


I cannot stress enough that in the dance community, whether in LA or the Bay, many of the classes and workshops I have attended have simply been about competition and who can be the best. Shivani and Chaya do not run their classes with that mentality AT ALL, and that is one of the biggest reasons why people come back to their classes every single week; because their class makes them FEEL something (and that's what dance is all about). Being able to be yourself in a dance class (not necessarily technically perfect, but being able to express yourself) is the best feeling in the world, and if you haven't already, go take a BhangraFunk class, you will know what I'm talking about! 

I also had the chance to take the BollyFunk class that they started while I was there, and it was one of my favorite experiences! Here is the video below: 

After training in LA for two weeks, we all flew to New Jersey! THIS is where the excitement happened. Living together, training together, and going through this amazing experience together literally made us family. 


As a part of our technical rehearsal, since we were performing with Diljit Dosanjh (OMG), we had to be at the venue and basically just had to sit and wait until it was our turn to go up on stage and rehearse. Let it be known, that this was the BEST waiting experience I have ever had! Everywhere I looked, every other second, some or the other actor was walking by! I was in heaven. To my surprise, they were extremely welcoming and nice! Here are a few pictures from backstage below: 







Lastly, as a kid I have always watched the IIFA Awards on TV, but seeing a show of this magnitude with SO MANY stars in person was a different experience all together. It is what made me realize that entertainment and dance is a part of me and always will be. It made me realize that I never want to give up my passion, and that I may have to work a little harder to balance my passion with my career, but at the end of the day, it is worth it. 

All in all, you never know where a little risk can take you. My little risk took me to meet my dance idols and perform at one of the biggest awards shows in Indian Cinema. If this little girl from Pleasanton can do it, so can you. Take a chance, you might surprise yourself. 



Srishti BirlaComment