INDepth: With Invoker
Aishwarya Kaur

INDepth: With Invoker

The incredibly talented and multifaceted artist Rahul Singh aka Invoker, talks about his triumphant dance journey and his hopes to inspire people to never give up on their dream.

Rahul Singh better known as his stage name 'Invoker', is a hip-hop dancer, performer, teacher and choreographer from Khora, Ghaziabad. A member of the 'Kundu House Crew' and the ‘Unreal Crew,’ along with being the creator of ‘Groovy Spot’ - a dance event and competition, Invoker has also been the recipient of multiple awards such as ’To The Culture Award’ for the best hip-hop dancer in India and 'Performance Night Award’ for the best battle and hip-hop dancer. He believes dance to be a memory-like art form and that he was born to be able to express himself through it.

Rahul Singh

The incredibly talented dancer has bagged several championships during his dance journey, boasting more than 70 titles that include winning Bharat Jam 2020, Back to the Streets 2019, Funk Vibe 2019, Original Street Dance 2019 & 2018 and attaining the runner up positions for Whassup Doc Malaysia and Judgement Day Malaysia - the largest hip-hop festival in Asia.

Borrowing his stage name from a character called 'Invoker' in the video game ‘Dota', the dancer states the game held fond memories throughout his childhood and the inspiring character was the most powerful and difficult to master - abilities that Singh wanted to represent through his dancing as well.

The zeal to dance began at a very young age for Invoker. Finding any occasion as an excuse to dance, he realised the art form was more than just a hobby - it was his biggest passion. Growing up, he would save the 10 rupees his parents would give him as travel expenses for school and would instead go to Internet cafes to watch all kinds of dance choreography and style videos, which he would then go home and practice. He wanted to join a Dance Studio or Academy after completing high school, but due to financial constraints and being the only earning member, Singh was forced to get a job at a local bakery to support his family.

"I had a 12 hour shift at the bakery for which I would start my days at 5am. At my workplace, I had the habit of dancing and grooving to the radio because of which my boss would scold and threaten to fire me. My heart wanted to dance but my responsibilities were unfortunately keeping me from it. I would sometimes find myself crying, realising that I couldn’t pursue dance because my family was completely dependent on me to provide. But even at my lowest, I knew I would do anything, no matter what it took, to fulfil my dream of dancing and find a way to support my family through it."

Rahul Singh aka Invoker

Although Singh was unable to afford a course to professionally study dance, he refused to let that stop him and decided to take a leap of faith by quitting his job at the bakery and taking up the role of a Bollywood dance instructor for kids at a studio instead. It was not too long after that he met ‘Funkey’ aka Harshvardhan Bhan, a dancer who introduced him to the world of ‘underground dance battles.’

After competing in his first battle, Singh realised how much he had yet to learn and how much the community had to offer. In this time period, he delved different dance styles such as hip-hop, popping, krump, wacking and even house. After acquiring the skillsets and techniques from these various styles, Singh chose to specialise in and master the style of hiphop. Attending multiple workshops conducted by pioneers of hip-hop, competing in several jams and battles, travelling to different cities all over the world to learn, he dedicated his time and efforts to perfecting his artform.

"When you learn something new, you have to take your time with it. You have to practice and explore for yourself and just flow with your technique to the steps you’ve learnt. I believe one should always learn form different teachers, because that way you will always have different approaches and options, and you can pick and master specific talents from different teachers that you connect with."

Rahul Singh aka Invoker

Having learnt different techniques and styles of hip-hop, Singh discloses that he combined distinct elements and blended them to create a hybrid form of hip-hop that represents his vision and pledge. When it comes to teaching his students, the dancer shares that he always teaches his students a variation of the style by adding his own flair to it. Although he teaches all dance forms and styles, Singh maintains that it is up to the student to choose what makes sense for them and what they would like to learn from him.

Rahul Singh

"How I started, my experience and my feelings, are different from everyone else's. If they want to copy and imitate my moves, they can, but they cannot imitate the emotion I put into my art. I feel like, if you focus on your experience, it might not always end in fame but at the end of the day, its something that it is uniquely just yours. Even when it comes to artists that I look upto, I learn and experience their style of dancing, but I make a concerted effort and choose not to mimic it."

Rahul Singh aka Invoker

One dancer that Singh looks upto and has been his biggest inspiration is Majid Kessab, also known as Magilla, an extremely talented dancer and performer from Germany. In 2018, when the German dancer came to judge a competition in India, Singh knew it was an unmissable opportunity to meet one of his idols and cites meeting Majid as one of the most memorable moments of his life.

Rahul Singh

Coincidentally, Singh participated in and was crowned champion of the competition. Winning the battle opened doors for many opportunities and Singh was asked to judge at one of the biggest, most celebrated festivals in Bhutan - the Gokab Festival.

When asked about alternative career paths in case he wasn't dancing, Singh discloses he knew from the beginning that he wanted to become a professional dancer and there’s nothing else he’d rather be doing. However if push came to shove, options relating to the art and creative sphere are definitely something he would pursue - an area Singh has readily delved into by devoting time and effort to the content creation for his social platforms.

The dancer reveals that he wants to get into making and shooting more videos for his Instagram and Facebook, while working towards strengthening his social platforms, tapping into choreographing more routines and putting them up on his YouTube channel for his students and other dancers to view and learn.

If it wasn’t for the internet or his social platforms, Singh says he would never have been able to create and share his dance routines with his followers and students. During this lockdown, he has conducted online freestyle classes and has been able to reach out to and teach students from different cities around the world, just as he did while learning in the past himself.

In the coming future, Singh envisions creating a collective - a safe space, of sorts - that next generation dancers in the country can fall back on and reach out for support in all capacities. Having witnessed the struggles many dancers in the industry face due to inadequate compensation and lack of support in general, Singh has seen several professional dancers being forced to give up on their dreams. The main inspiration behind this venture is to make sure talent in the sphere does not to go unrecognised or unrewarded.

"As a dancer, you want nothing more than to travel, compete, and learn, but you cannot escape the reality of the various responsibilities of supporting yourself and your family as well. If that wasn’t the case, and I only had myself to worry about then I know I could do alot more than I am right now. It is very painful to see that even when you work hard, achieve your goals, travel all around the world battling and winning competitions while representing your country that sometimes you are still left with nothing concrete. I want to change that for the upcoming generations."

Rahul Singh aka Invoker

Rahul Singh

Unlike dancers from other countries who have big companies and agencies representing them and providing sponsors, dance kits, merchandise, and even monetary compensation, Singh reveals how disheartening it is to witness the disparity when compared to the scene in India and over the last 5 years, has constantly raised this topic and voiced his thoughts on the need for changes in the community.

Singh has multiple plans in store for improving the community and is working on executing and implementing these ideas. However, until these changes pick up pace and revolutionise the dance environment, Singh maintains that he is adamant on finding any work he can that will help him continue expressing himself through his art form.

Rahul Singh

Invoker also has some exciting upcoming projects that fans can look forward to, namely a documentary film based on the artists journey as a dancer that is in the works by KOD Worldwide in association with Narvel Films, USA. In the end, one of the main things the dancer wants to reinforce is the hope that other dancers and artists never give up on their dreams, regardless of what it takes.

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