Joshi, a mid-twentysomething from Amsterdam, Netherlands, is the true embodiment of heart, passion, and dedication.
Surrounded by movement and music at an early age since his father was a salsa dance instructor, he never considered pursuing a career as a dancer until he experienced the healing power of dance during an especially difficult and emotional time in his life.
But salvation came during an unforgettable performance by the world-renowned Nederlands Dans Theater. “At that moment, I understood the power of art,” he remembers. “I knew I wanted to pass on that feeling I experienced that evening. The feeling of being understood. The feeling that you’re not alone.”
If you ask why he dances, Joshi will reply with a charming grin, “Dance is my addiction.” And in that moment, that’s all you will need to hear. Not because he’s trying to sell you on it but because you can see the proof and power of it on him. In the way he doesn’t hesitate to be vulnerable. In the way he bears his soul and dares to be unapologetically himself. In the way he creates space for others to do the same.
Joshi minces no words about the impact dance has had on his life. He’ll tell you, honestly, “Dance changed my life. And it keeps changing my life.” And he’ll confidently proclaim, “ It’s like a religion without rules, which is amazing to me.”
Perhaps that’s why he thinks more men should try it because “you’re always able to change the way dance is or how it is perceived. But you have to experience it before you’re able to judge it.”
Joshi bravely shows us that #WhenMenDance they create connections in the purest form. The kind that encourage you to be yourself because you’re already enough, and it’s time you realize it.
Joshi’s Full Story
I grew up in the dance scene because my father had a dance school–a salsa dance school. So, I was always around music around movement. Because he was always busy with work that would be the way to connect to him. So, dance has always had a special place. I started training very late–I was eighteen–but it has always been in my life.
I was going to become a lawyer first. But I have a little bit of ADHD and studying wasn’t my thing. Sitting still wasn’t my thing. And when it [came time to decide] what I wanted to study, I said, ‘Let’s see what dance is.’ And it all just rolled from there.
Going into college, the only thing I knew was that I didn’t want to sit behind a desk the rest of my life. So, I chose to audition for a musical theatre program and surprisingly got in. For a while, I never pursued a career in dance, even though I was already performing as such.
When I was going through a difficult time emotionally and I felt like I couldn’t talk about it or that no one would really understand me. I saw a performance of Nederlands Dans Theater and they did a piece that was like my whole situation, but it was on stage. I could connect to it in a way that I couldn’t with anyone or anything else.
At that moment, I understood the power of art. I knew I wanted to pass on that feeling I experienced that evening. The feeling of being understood. The feeling that you’re not alone.
Dance is my addiction. Ever since I started training, it’s like a daily cleanse. Dance is a way of expression. I always find it hard to express myself through words. And dance is just something so pure.
It’s something very powerful. Something very aggressive because it’s an action that you constantly do. But it’s also passive because you’re always tuning into something, whether it’s an emotion or music. It has that perfect balance of doing something and letting something happen to you.
I think there’s a lot of prejudgment about men who dance. And I think it’s important to show different sides don’t know. For example, dance is sometimes seen as something that is very showy and people see us and are like, “Oh…happy dancers!” They assume all the men are feminine. But dance has a lot of different facets. And I wanted to be a part of this campaign because it is important to show that.
Before I started dancing, I used to go to the gym and pump a lot of weights and I also used to do Thai boxing. I just wanted to be big. Big and strong. Dance taught me that there is strength in moving other things but that real strength is hav[ing] total control over yourself. Masculine is not necessarily a shape or a size. Masculinity for me is a way of achieving things efficiently.
I hope that, again, more men can feel understood. And can connect to something and be like, “Oh, I didn’t know there were more men out there with the same feelings, and I’m not weird for thinking this, feeling this, wanting this…I don’t have to adjust to this stereotype.”
When you’re dancing, there’s almost a numbness of your conscious mind. It’s no thoughts, just being. And that’s important because as humans we get stuck in our head. And our whole human experience is based on how we perceive things. And that perception is usually based on how we think about things. If you’re able to stop thinking of your objective, you’re able to perceive things as how they are in the moment. And that’s the power of dance.
Dance changed my life. And it keeps changing my life. It’s like a religion without rules, which is amazing to me. So, I hope more men try it. I hope they realize you’re always able to change the way dance is or how it is perceived. But you have to experience it before you’re able to judge it.
I just want people to connect. And through that be able to be more of themselves. Within dance.