From time immemorial, dance has been around as an art; a medium of expression among cultures across the globe. Dance, involving direct conveyance of emotions/feelings through the body, is an intimate and powerful medium for therapy. Based on the assumption that the body and mind are interrelated, dance/movement therapy is “the psychotherapeutic use of movement as a process which furthers the emotional, cognitive and physical integration of the individual,” as defined by the ADTA (American Dance Therapy Association).
Although Dance as therapy has been around since 1940, it has only now started its journey to popularity in India. Runjhun Gupta founded ZipOut from a passion for dance and the need for therapy in today’s stressful world. “My parents always supported my love for Dance and I honed my skills under the guidance of Tanushree Shankar and Ananda Shankar. At the same time, I was academically inclined and completed my graduation from College of Business Studies, Delhi University in Finance and also did an executive masters program from IIM Calcutta, again in Finance. This prompted me to try out various skill sets and I started off as a currency trader and later joined Bank of America. As a currency trader and while working at BOA, I constantly found myself surrounded by colleagues, who were either professionally stressed or personally stressed,” she says.
That was where Rhunjhun found her calling and thus was born ZipOut (Zindagi in Pajama, Stress Out). Based out of Noida, ZipOut provides therapeutic dance classes in an interactive and fun manner, for relaxing individuals both at the corporate (they have conducted corporate workshops at Hindustan Times, Cadence, Patni Computers, V- Customers to name a few) and individual levels and simultaneously operates as a dance academy to hone dance skills of passionate dancers. “Every student whether he/she is looking to de-stress or towards dance as a professional career, or as a hobby, or just for fun is welcome and nurtured accordingly. The student’s overall journey and above all their satisfaction is important to us,” says Rhunjhun.
The beginning is always tough, but as one starts seeing a possible winning horse, the support also gathers momentum. Rhunjhun faced her fair share of challenges while starting up. She says, “Networking initially for a lady is not easy in Delhi. There were difficult times when I felt that I should quit; developing marketing and business strategies alongside designing each session was never an easy task. After all, I was looking forward to promoting my brand and my ideology of providing a euphoric experience through dance rather than a regular exercise regime.”
The co-existence of an artist and an entrepreneur is one of the most difficult challenges Rhunjhun faced. She says, “The artist in me wants to perform, create newer levels of quality, create a satisfying experience and the entrepreneur in me points towards the responsibilities that I have towards ZipOut and its associates. It is difficult to balance the two.”
It was all worth it though. “Most of us at the workplace spend maximum time with machines and as machines. I realized that there had to be some avenue of oiling ourselves up. That is the exact objective of ZipOut. Today, I see my students improve not only in their dance but see dance affecting their overall persona making them more confident and happy. I think that is the feeling which cannot be defined in words,” she adds.
ZipOut has received a lot of media coverage, including from Noidan Way, Amar Ujala, Dash magazine, Zee Tv, India Tv and Total Tv. Rhunjhun has also judged auditions at Kingdom of Dreams, Gurgaon where she was invited as a Judge at “Just Do It 2011, Kids Dance Competition”. ZipOut has also won the award for being the best dance institute in Delhi, NCR. The best of it, Rhunjhun feels, however, came from being awarded by Dr Shashi Tharoor and her name being included in the diaries of CBS as the ‘36 most Illustrious CBS alumni’. To be invited for a live talk show on Dance and health by Sahara TV was another big achievement. “The journey has made me evolve as a dancer, as an entrepreneur and above all as a teacher. And to be recognised for these achievements further keeps me motivated,” she adds.
“It is important that my brand and I be local first and then go global. My grand plan eventually is to be an investor and promote great companies whose objective is to make others ‘happy’; promote those companies who are in the process of creating wellness. My dream is to be invited to Stanford Business School as a guest lecturer /invitee and to be appreciated one day for my journey of innovative practices in business and as an entrepreneur through dance, which I aim to achieve,” she envisions.
“On the artist front, I am constantly trying to improve myself and would like to create a production house to hone talent and help talent and quality prosper. You will hear a lot of ZipOut in times to come,” promises Rhunjhun.
On a concluding note, Rhunjhun says, “Be courageous to say what you want, follow your heart, live life …. Simply zipout”
For more on ZipOut, visit www.zipout.co.in