13/06/2017
"I don’t want to scream anymore."

Words by

Tara Smith

Amrita Hepi is a name you should remember.

It belongs to a dance activist who uses choreography and dance classes as a political tool. Teaching routines by Beyoncé to Justin Bieber to Kanye West, she’s opening up dance to a whole new crowd of people. Her classes are a safe place, a platform to talk about a range of issues surrounding race, gender, body and more. 

Not only that, Amrita has performed at the Sydney Opera House, Next Wave Festival and hosted her own TEDxYouth talk.

In short, she’s doing pretty cool things.

We recently chatted to Amrita as part of ‘ASOS Supports Talent’, a global initiative supporting individuals on their passion projects. Here’s what she had to say.

On her dance classes…

I like it to feel like you’re in a community. So usually my classes are quite packed, the lighting is dim and the music is loud. 

On self-acceptance…

I went through this really weird stage around the age of 19, 20, 21, where I didn’t really know what I was doing. I didn’t think I wanted to do dance anymore. I had this pit of shame through and through me. I stopped.

I thought that dance was narcissistic and I didn’t have the shape, or I wasn’t the right person, or I couldn’t access it… I look back on that now and it had a lot to do with shame.

On backing yourself…

I think I had a couple of shitty experiences with teachers… If it’s taught me anything, it’s to really question when someone tells you ‘everyone thinks this’, to really question who that ‘everyone’ is. Think about it.

On the political importance of dance…

Dance classes were a really great way to have a sense of the political, in a way that was digestible for people. I come from a school that has an intensely political background. NAISDA came from AIDT (Aboriginal Islanders Dance Theatre) and that came from black dancers over in America. The movement was in resistance to a lot of things that were happening around that time, in terms of race, in terms of just being the physical embodiment of such a turbulent time.

We are seeing reflections of that civility rising again in terms of questioning equality, questioning class, race, gender and all of these things.

I’ve done a lot of screaming in my life around these issues and I don’t want to scream anymore.

ASOS Supports Talent is a global initiative helping bring passion projects to life. You can read more here.

asos.com/au

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