We had the good fortune of connecting with Thulasiram Govinda Chettiyar and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Thulasiram, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I strongly believe that risk is but an opportunity in disguise, and a well-calculated risk always puts us on a pedestal that not only pushes us to do better in our chosen field of interest but also shows us a whole new dimension of ourselves that we never knew existed in the first place. The very foundation of my present life was based on a huge risk I decided to take at an important point in my career. I was working a white-collar 9-to-5 job in a major software company in India when an opportunity to teach yoga in Vietnam came knocking on my door from an old friend with whom I used to practice yoga growing up. As luck would have it, I had been keeping up with my practices and had all the required certificates in place. Although the idea to build a career in yoga and performance arts was something that has been sitting in my head for a good few years before I got this opportunity, the road ahead, I knew, was going to be a challenging and extremely difficult path to travel. To give up a well-paid job at a crucial point in my career as a computer engineer posed a huge risk, for, besides losing an already set life, I will be starting from scratch at an age where my friends and peers would be entering a new phase in their lives. While at the same time it was the thought of ‘now or never’ that has led me to take the plunge into the unknown yet a more rewarding life, not to mention the hard work, perseverance, and all the other dictionary words for success that has helped me shape the person that I am today.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I have always been a huge fan of break dance and hip-hop culture right from my first exposure to it. The more I learnt about the evolution of the artform the more compelling it was to me and I got drawn towards it to the extent where I can comfortably say that the art I create, has a greater influence from the knowledge I gathered learning and understanding the various aspects of hip-hop. Having been born and raised in India, which in itself is a multicultural haven, I started experimenting with fusing south Indian dance forms to hip-hop music and vice-versa, and the results were exhilarating. After moving to the U.S a few years back, I could successfully create a niche by doing what I mastered, adding to the cultural landscape of the United States. I strongly believe that anything is possible when we set our mind to it, and determination and hard work takes us closer to where we want to be. When people compliment me for excelling in dance and choreography and say that I was born with the talent to dance, I can’t help but think of the initial days where I struggled to even fathom what dance was about. I was already 22 years at the time when I first got the interest to try my hand at dancing, let alone the thought of me dancing on stage when I used to watch performances while I worked for the corporate company. There was this unexplainable feeling of seeing myself as a dancer someday grew stronger and pushed me to take the necessary yet challenging steps to become what I wanted to be. Although this intense desire landed me in the audition room to be a part of my company’s dance team, not once but thrice, and eventually become the face of the team, it was not until I took the plunge to take part in a dance TV reality show that taught me a whole lot of dancing which not only changed the course of my life but also made me feel at home whenever I danced. There was no stopping since then and I feel a sense of pride to reflect on the wonderful journey that has taken me to where I am today. No dream-achieving path lacks obstacles, and I am no exception. To begin with, choosing to take dance and yoga as my career in itself was a challenging choice. This meant quitting a financially stable, secure full-time job for the sole love of one’s passion with the mere support of nothing but hope. Moreover, being the sole income earner of the household, my career choices invited a lot of unwelcome criticisms from both society and even immediate family. But undeterred by all societal pressures, my wife (then girlfriend) stood by me and encouraged me to do what I love, no matter how big the risk. To this day I believe that, if not for that nudge in the right direction, I would have regretted not making one of my life’s best decisions. Some of my prominent works in dance have come through choreographing and performing with Team Ground Zero (TGZ) – a BollyFusion performing team I founded with my like-minded friends, and I have learnt some valuable lessons along the way doing what I love the most. The road less travelled despite the unknown teaches a whole lot about oneself and life! Although the beginning was humble, I was able to achieve a few feats pursuing what I believed was my calling. The team and I through various scintillating performances at various prestigious arenas are now well recognized in the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex area for our unique style and energy. In addition to that, I also collaborate with theatre productions, independent music creators and dancers across platforms to create quality work that not only entertain the audience but also contribute to various charity works around the globe. With such beautiful experiences I can advocate with conviction that pursuing what we love with all our heart with strong determination takes us much closer towards our own self which in turn brings harmony to life and make us a valuable addition to the community we live in!

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love Dallas for its diversity when it comes to food. There are a whole lot of restaurants to try from just with the Indian cuisine, be it the spicy south Indian style food or the north Indian Tikka masalas, Dallas has a lot to offer. Besides food, Shops at legacy is a beautiful place to hang out. Right in the heart of Plano, closer to the IT hub at the Headquarters, the place is perfect especially during holidays with beautiful lake to walk around with gelatos bought from the nearby ice cream shop. The people of Plano are no stranger to the Deerfield community at the Legacy Ohio intersection for its beautiful Christmas decorations and I get all excited to show my friends around the community when they happen to visit during the holidays. Most of my friends visiting Dallas are of Indian origin and some of them take time off to travel, just to get a feel of home that they miss. There are a few places in Dallas that play Indian music during fridays and weekends, and Al-Ameer tops the list with live dhol on select days. This Hookah parlour offers a wide variety of options to try from both with food and Hookah, with Bollywood music blasting the well spaced place. In addition to the extravagant music from a variety of places and eye catching murals at the Deep ellum, there is this less popular place which many living here in the metroplex, I doubt, would know. It was not until my friend took me to this adrenaline pumping small yet thrill park, did I get to experience the thrill rides. If you are picturing a more sophisticated disney or universal looking park, you would be in for surprise for the park is unique with only a handful of rides each defying the gravity as the name of the park (Zero Gravity) suggests.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I am delighted to dedicate this shoutout to the most important woman in my life, Lydia, my life partner, without whom the life I lead now would have been close to impossible. The saying, ‘There is a woman behind every man’s success’ would be an understatement and the little push I needed at the right time in making the most important decision of my life came from her. Right from the moment I made the decision to pursue my career of interest, she has been there every step of the way encouraging, supporting and most important of all feeling proud for even the littlest of my success. With her being an excellent dancer herself, it is very convenient for me to have my work reviewed even before it reaches the eyes of the world, for she is but the strongest of critiques of my work. Creatives, in my opinion are a little differently wired, in the sense that the time of a day bears the least importance, and a creative idea can light the bulb at any point during the day or the night, and I give no second thought to share with or show her the idea manifest in its most unembellished form. With her by my side, I am confident that I can scale up the heights of any success and spread joy and love to the world of arts through my work. Last but not the least, I would be honored to offer this shoutout to my parents who against all odds and socio-economic differences got me to a place which opened up a whole gamut of possibilities.

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thulasi.ram/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/thulasiram-govinda-chettiyar-634047147/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThulasiramGovindaChettiyar/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCunyACy1XpdG1-boY0Y4h4w

Image Credits
Dance Pics – Vasanth Vaseegaran Yoga Pics – Shiva

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