Step It Up With Sandarangi Perera - Cosmopolitan Sri Lanka

Step It Up With Sandarangi Perera

She’s got all the right moves

This budding dancer-turned-teacher never expected to teach a room full of students. But she loves it! Today, her hip-hop classes are the most sought after.

THE BEGINNING

When Sandarangi was in school and considering all the different careers, a teacher was never something she wanted to become. “You know how much of a hard time kids give teachers, and I thought I’m never going to put myself in that situation so I was dead set on being a journalist!” she said.

After training for while at the Deanna School of Dancing, her teacher asked her to sub for a junior class. “After class, as I was walking to the bus stop to go home, I realised I was just really happy,” Sandarangi revealed. She quickly realised this was exactly what she wanted to do. “I always loved dance and dancing but that was the moment I felt that I wanted to teach dance.”

FROM THEN TO NOW

As she shifted gears and began her career in teaching dance, one of Sandarangi’s biggest inspirations was her teacher, Natasha Jayasuriya. “It’s hardly a thing to be a dance teacher in Sri Lanka—people still look down on that, especially if you don’t have a typical 9-to-5 job. People always ask how I’m going to be successful or if it’s practical,” she said. But, after seeing how successful Natasha, her sister, and mother who own the Deanna School of Dancing, Sandarangi realised it can be a successful career path.

Sandarangi may teach hip-hop, but she started with Kandyan dancing when she was 9-years-old, and then moved to hip-hop when she was 16. “It just resonated with my personality. I was always a tomboy growing up and I felt like I could relate to that type of music much more.”

In class, the best way to get her students motivated is with a pep talk. “I’m very loud in my classes, so it might sound like yelling but it gets you going! In dance, even if you do your best, at the end of it you still feel like you can do better. So if I feel like a student has more to give, I’ll push them,” explained Sandarangi.

THE DIGITAL INFLUENCE

Not only can social media be a great form of inspiring millennials and Gen Zs, but as Sandarangi explains it’s also a really good platform for marketing, and if you use it right it can be really beneficial. One of Sandarangi’s goals is to share what she creates with a wider audience. “I hope it influences people to see that dance is an option, a career, if it’s something you want to follow. But, a lot of work goes into creating content you see on Instagram. The one-minute videos that are posted have hours of training, practice, and hard work,” she said.

THE SRI LANKAN DANCE COMMUNITY

 The dance community in Sri Lanka is still very small and has a long way to go. “We have so much potential and talent, but we don’t have the necessary education for dance.” Sandarangi is also one of the few female hip-hop teachers in town. “People expect me to be more feminine even if I’m dancing hip hop. I get a lot of people tell me to ‘dance like a girl’, but I am a girl and this is how I dance!”

Follow Sandarangi on Instagram! 

This article was originally published in the August 2019 issue of Cosmopolitan Sri Lanka. For more inspo, grab a copy of our latest magazine or subscribe online

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