If you log on to Youtube.com and search for Melvin Louis, you’ll come across a bunch of videos with views ranging from 500,000 to over 2 million. There’s this cool-looking dude with back-up dancers grooving to Kala Chashma, Tamma Tamma, Shape of You, Enna Sona and Kar Gayi Chul. The dance moves are addictive. Watch them for more than five minutes and you’ll find your hands and legs trying to imitate the cool dude. Of course, you’ll fail miserably if you have no dance training, but that’s a different story.
Meet Melvin Louis, a self-taught dancer and choreographer from Mumbai, who is now a sensation on social media. He’s India’s first dancer-choreographer who has over 100,000 subscribers on YouTube. He puts up posts asking people if they want a dance workshop in their city and flies down over the weekend because they get booked in a couple of hours. He’s won over the hearts of his students and if you read the comments on his Facebook and Instagram posts, you’ll be blown away by the positive energy emanating out of them.
“Once I got a call from a traveller in North India who reached a particular village where there were a bunch of kids outside huts watching my videos and practising it. The person called me up and said: ‘I don’t know who you are and what you are but these kids seem to really enjoy your work. So please don’t stop what you are doing because there are people who are thoroughly enjoying it and they don’t have any other medium for learning dance. Whatever you are sharing is been put to use by many’.” says Louis.
After graduating from SIES (South Indian Education Society), he worked for an investment bank as a Reconciliation Analyst. “I joined the bank because a lot of my friends were working over there. It was all going smooth for one and a half years and then one day the bank declared bankruptcy. This led to a change in career for me and by April 2009 I left the firm. I started Dance Inc. and gave it a shot as I knew nothing would be stable in life. Since I was young, I knew I had a few more years to try and explore by myself, so I felt it was alright to take a chance,” says Louis.
His studio ‘Dance People’ and company ‘Dance Inc’ are a rage among aspiring dancers in Mumbai. Since 2009, over one lakh people have learned to dance thanks to Melvin. Doctors, MBAs, teachers, corporate professionals, and kids, all have been students at his school. In November 2016, he launched #MeraDeshMeraBass, a dance tour where he’s headed out to 16 cities in India and eight countries across the world. He’s covered Delhi, Pune, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Goa and Dubai so far. Over 2,000 people covered so far.
Small wonder that he was chosen as one of the people to headline the YouTube FanFest. “I was very surprised when I got a call from YouTube. Because last year I was searching for a YouTube FanFest ticket to watch the show but unfortunately I didn’t get one. Cut to this year suddenly I am on the panel of the 21 artists who will be performing at the FanFest. I am very surprised and amazed because I didn’t know how to react. I was happier not only for me, but for the whole dance community.” says Melvin. That’s typical Melvin, humble and self-deprecating.
He was pretty much the same guy when he started off. As he says, “I used to dance in shorts when I taught then and I still teach in shorts.” And to think dance would have been put on the back-burner if it wasn’t for the bank declaring bankruptcy.
There were dark times in his journey. Sometimes, the demons would ask him to quit. “I was very low as the phase was very tough. It was a very difficult phase to fight. And I realised that nobody helps you. I completely helped myself out of it. I bounced back and since then I never stopped. I knew for sure that I had to keep going and I this feeling would pass,” he says.
What can we expect at FanFest? “I will be performing with a group of about 15 to 20 people. I will be performing throughout the performance and it will be choreographed by me. The performance is going to be magnificent and I might be collaborating with Mike Tompkins, the international YouTube celebrity who does a lot of covers and has over 2 million subscribers. I am very excited about this as I started my journey as a 7-year-old dancing to an A R Rahman song at home. So I will make sure that there is one song of him as well in my performance,” adds Melvin.