Thursday, June 20, 2024

Dancer-choreographer Jainil Mehta’s #MenInSkirts movement defies gender norms

Jainil Mehta

Jainil Mehta
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Over the last few weeks, a video of a young boy in a vibrant skirt, swaying to ‘Jhume Re Gori’ on the streets of New Yorkwent viral on Instagram. The artiste, Jainil Mehta, is a choreographer from New York but his roots are strongly grounded in India.

The 23-year-old is now in the spotlight for his #MenInSkirts movement that defies gender norms through dance sequences in flowy skirts.

Jainil Mehta

Jainil Mehta
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

Jainil explains how, as a child, he was fascinated with his mother’s colourful skirts. “Lightweight skirts with a large flare and vibrant hues, adding drama when swirled around are my favourite,” says the dancer who has collaborated with budding Indian designers such as Rupa Thakkar, and Archana Kochharo for the beautifully sewn skirts seen in his videos. 

The professionally trained garba dancer, who also dabbles with hip hop, ballet, contemporary, and Bollywood, adds that he is also the curator of J-Flow, a dance form he has created based on his conceptual experiences. With his posts hitting a million views, he says that the process of creating a video begins with building a vision, following which the location, outfit, and movements are sourced.

He says that his life as a dancer was not always as exhilarating as it is now. “There were days where my passion and choice were questioned to their greatest extent”. Going forward, Jainil plans to initiate a college-level dance programme centered on gender neutrality, and host workshops across countries.

He concludes, “I felt my best in a skirt even though the choice of donning a skirt was unpopular, and with this movement, I hope to encourage other men to follow what their heart says rather than being lab rats to societal norms.”

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