Since the lockdown, the Kalbelia community of gypsies in the state of Rajasthan has lost their sources of revenue due to the lack of tourists. Some of the gypsy dancers found a way out of their situation by giving dance lessons online through the Zoom app.
Many artists throughout Rajasthan have chosen to find their own source of income online by providing lessons and creating informational videos that help them sustain themselves financially.
The Kalbelia community are nomadic people who live in mud houses with inconsistent electricity and no internet. This has been the biggest problem for the community to bring their art online. People who do use the internet use their phones to give classes through the Zoom app. The connectivity issues still persist and hamper the consistency of the lessons they provide online.
The Kalbelia community has long been stigmatized by the local Rajasthan community. They were labeled as a ‘Criminal Community’ by the British during their colonial rule in India. Since then, this community has been marginalized until now.
The Kalbelia gypsies depended on their dance artform to sustain themselves. The most popular dance is the Snake dance where the dancers sway like the Snake. This dance was recognized by UNESCO and was classified as a Cultural Heritage and that gave these dancers a global recognition.
During these trying times, some entrepreneurs helped connect the dancers with international audiences by helping them give online lessons. Many international students from various countries helped these dancers overcome technological challenges.
This initiative brought a much-needed income for the dancers and more than the international 500 students paid for the online lessons. These students were from around 20 countries who learned from the Kalbelia Community.
The following YouTube video from the channel called ‘Amrita Dance School’ shows a Kalbelia Dance performance in Russia.