What I love most about dancing is that it gives me the freedom to express myself, use my imagination, and create a sequence. Teaching dance is very special to me – it’s a way of life, and it gives me a lot of positivity. Sharing my understanding of dancing and helping people improve their skills and self-confidence is very satisfying.
My name is Meenal Shukla. I am a mother, choreographer, jewellery designer, and software engineer. Currently, I am seeking an opportunity to get back to technology after a full-time career break.
Prior to coming to Dublin, I have lived in many parts of the world – India, the UK, Indonesia & the Philippines. This global exposure gave me a great opportunity to experience different cultures and enrich my view of life. After staying in various APAC countries, my husband and I decided to give our kids an experience of life in Europe. In our earlier stay in the UK, the kids were too young to get a real feel of life and culture in this part of the world. We moved to Dublin as a family in 2016.
I have loved dancing for as long as I can remember. All I needed was a song and then my feet just couldn’t control themselves. Dancing has been a lifelong passion for me, right from my younger days.
Nature and folk dancing inspires me the most. Nature expresses itself in so many ways and dance is everywhere – be it in rays of sun, a butterfly fluttering around flowers, trees moving in tune with the wind, or a peacock dancing in rain or in an angry thunderstorm. All of this fascinates me.
Folk dance inspires me a lot. There is something special about dance forms that have a traditional and cultural heritage. It’s very interesting to see how different cultures have such different interpretations of how dance can give way to expressions.
I have spent many years working as a Bollywood Dance Director. When I was 12 years old, I got my first opportunity to put up a show in the community during the celebration of the Ganesh festival. That was my first step into the world of choreography. From there on, I have been continuously doing choreography. During my graduation years in college, I was the cultural head and organized the college fest with my team. When I took a career gap to support my family, I wanted to keep myself creatively engaged and decided to pursue my passion for dancing. That’s when I started my Bollywood dance class in Pune, India.
In my dance classes, I had weekly 1 hour sessions which comprise of fun warm-ups, followed by dance training on a chosen song (with or without props). The session ended with a calm warming-down exercise and meditation. I also did choreography for social events like weddings, festivals, and dance competitions.
All my performances are very close to my heart. One memorable performance I choreographed was in 2015 – it was in Manila, Philippines for a group comprising of 15 kids from an age group of 3 to 13 years. That was a continuous sequence of 10 minutes with teams performing in different combinations. It went so well, with me managing varied age groups of kids along with costume changes during the performance. That made it very special.
Looking at my other activity, I also love jewellery making. I first became interested in jewellery making in 2014 when I was living in Manila. I picked up the interest through a friend who was practicing it. I started learning it and became very fond of it.
I love to make necklaces, bracelets, and earrings using beautiful and classic beads. My most favourite piece is a Bluestone necklace set with leaf danglings.
What I love about jewellery making is that it gives me an opportunity to create my own thing. I can give my imagination a face, and I can play with colours and designs until I feel satisfied. I love the precision and attention to the smallest of details it requires.
In the future, I would love to take my passions to another level and showcase my creativity. I want to get trained in Indian classical dance to add another element to my dancing.
I see a few similarities between Dancing & Jewellery Making and software engineering. With all of them, I have an opportunity to innovate and create. There is tremendous scope to learn and grow, and I can keep reinventing myself.
I definitely think my experiences with these passions have been a benefit to my technological career. Dancing and jewellery making helped me to bring out my creativity; at the same time, they gave me an opportunity to learn the art of managing teams: to collaborate and bring out the best in my students. With them, I always had my learning shoes on – the ability to learn on a continuous basis is helping me right now to up-skill myself with the latest technology trends to get back to a full-time career.
My advice to anyone interested in taking up either Bollywood Dance or Jewellery Making would be to get the basics right, try and understand the essence of it, and keep practicing. Practice makes everyone perfect. There are no shortcuts. And the most important thing is to enjoy!
There is always more than tech. It is very important to share our creative passions. That way, we can appreciate, encourage, and learn from each other. In turn, this will motivate an individual to keep in touch with their passions.