Maureen Gonsalves is a cultural coordinator at Goethe Institut Max Mueller Bhavan and a dance mom here at TLFCB.
Maureen is one of the longest-standing dance moms of TLFCB. She has been attending Yana’s Callanetics (now DanceFit) classes since way back in 2003. Her daughter Dayita (now 26 years old) started taking ballet with Yana in 2005, danced with the Yana Lewis Dance Company between 2007–2011, and continues to dance with The Lewis Foundation today. Most recently, Dayita performed the role of Lumière in our 2017 production of Belle and The Beast.
How did you hear about TLFCB?
I have always been keen on staying fit, and when I found out about Yana’s classes, I was also looking for something that would help me lose weight. I saw a poster about Yana’s Callanetics classes on Church Street, so I decided to join. Back then the classes were held at Chisel on Richmond road, which was close to my home—it all just worked.
What different forms of fitness do you practice?
I attend DanceFit at and yoga classes at TLFCB, with Yana and Elina, and I take Divya Nichani’s yoga classes, too. I started doing yoga only sometime in 2010; when I was younger, I wasn’t really into it as much as I am now. Apart from these regular classes, I also enjoy early morning walks, usually to and from Cubbon Park—on days when I don’t have a yoga class, I go for a walk.
Do you have a dance background?
A couple of years ago, I attended a contemporary dance class called Mature Movers, for people over 50. I enjoyed them—in them, I got to experience varied movement forms. Attending these classes gave me a new perspective on how much dancers are capable of. Sadly, the classes were only offered for about six months, so I haven’t been to a dance class since then.
What inspires you to keep coming back to class?
I thoroughly enjoy DanceFit—I think it’s an excellent workout. Yana is one of my biggest inspirations—she’s always encouraging me to push harder and do more. I was very inflexible before I started taking classes with Yana, but she has really helped me open up my body and move!
Why did you decide to send your daughter to dance class?
When Dayita was around five years old, we had a German neighbour who taught ballet. So she began taking ballet classes with this lady in our apartment building. This teacher moved away after a few months, so I signed her up for a different ballet class here in Bangalore. A few years later, when I began taking Callanetics with Yana, I was eager for Dayita to start dancing with Yana. Dayita didn’t want to leave the ballet class she was in at the time, but after a bit of persuasion, Yana and I got her to join ballet and jazz classes at TLFCB.
When it was time for her to go to college, Dayita wanted to pursue dance, so we sent her to the USA. During college, she expanded her movement well beyond ballet and jazz, and developed an interested in contemporary and modern dance. It was incredibly rewarding for us to see and for her to experience.
What are the joys and struggles of supporting your daughter in her passion for dance?
Watching her perform is the biggest joy; seeing her passion and dedication makes everything worthwhile. Dayita was quite reserved and withdrawn as a child, and dance has changed her into a confident, poised, and expressive person—this has been the biggest reward. As for struggles, there weren’t many, to be honest. Other than ferrying her to and from classes and sewing pointe shoes when she was younger, she was pretty self-motivated and self-sufficient. It was never a task to get her to go to class. Growing up, she also used to go for piano classes at 5:30 am in addition to dance and school. I am not sure how she managed, but she loved it all—I guess that’s what kept her going.
What advice would you give fellow moms?
Give your children access to some means of expressing themselves. To me, dance is one of the greatest forms of expression. It connects body and mind while encouraging self-expression and development; and of course, it’s a lot of fun!