Battling My Way Through: Alka Sharma

When did you start participating in cyphers and battles? What got you interested in them?

I started cyphering way before I started battling. The term ‘cypher’  was introduced to me in 2016, when I went to my first jam that was ‘freeze’. I went there as a viewer. I was very inspired. But I did not go down (participate) in battles until 2021. I wanted to learn more before getting down. I used to attend the jams to watch my friends. It was when I started training under Tanuj sir that I got the confidence to participate. He is an amazing mover and when I saw him dancing in a battle I wanted to do it too. So in 2021 it was my new year resolution to get down in battles! In January, I battled for the first time and it was liberating.

What according to you is the difference between dancing commercially and dancing in a cypher or battle? Which has helped you grow more as an artist?

Dancing in cyphers is like dancing in this safe space where people around you in the circle cheer for you, encourage you and support you while you are moving! The music, the people and the energy around you make you push harder and do better. In battle you put your best foot forward. You show what you have been practicing. People around you will watch you and judge you, although eventually you start enjoying it and you feel like you belong there! Freestyling is an art that sets you free like no other form of art can. Sometimes you do things that you did not know  you were capable of doing. It’s also meditative. You get into the flow and it’s healing. Moving to an unknown piece of music in front of unknown people is a different kind of vulnerability and if you get comfortable in this space, you grow.

Dancing commercially is like doing what you love but you do it in order to achieve someone else’s vision. Sometimes it feels good, because you’re surrounded by people who know what you do, but most of the time you don’t feel like yourself. However, dancing commercially has made me ready for the industry. I’ve learned how to be in front of the camera, how to pick up 15 choreographies in 2 days. I've learned to survive 12-14 hours of rehearsals after which I home and come back again the next day to work for the same number of hours.

Dancing commercially and underground have both helped me grow. It depends what you are looking for.

How would you say have women supported and aided your growth as an artist? What is it like being a female artist in this field? Whether it's common/uncommon? If it's uncommon: why do you think it is and what can be done to bring more people in. If it's common: do you think that it's an even playing ground?

In the industry, nobody is happy with what you look like. I have been rejected a lot of times because I’m small and don’t look “mature”. Even though I work in the commercial industry to earn, it used to bother me - not the rejection but the near-impossible standards of beauty that are defined. It bothered me because no matter how hard you work on your skills, it comes down to the way you look. Then, I see these incredible, hard working women from the scene working everyday, who push themselves mentally and physically and take care of themselves, making it one step at a time. It inspires me to never settle. I look up to them and they support me and show me the way.  It’s amazing to see women supporting women and growing together.

There are also a lot of women in the scene right now and this is only because of women before us who paved the way. I think numbers also vary depending on the different styles. For example, waacking has more women than men while hip hop has fewer women

Editorial Desk

Editorial Desk