Vilas Iyer dances his dreams on stage


Used with permission of Linda Helms

Senior Vilas Iyer performs jazz pieces for the 2019 “Christmas Is Just Around the Corner” show.

Nayana Celine Xavier, Academics Editor

The dark stage becomes inundated with light. The audience looks upon the stage, quietly awaiting the performance. When the music begins to play, onto the stage runs senior Vilas Iyer. He portrays an elf messenger and leads the rest of the performers onto the stage for the elf dance. 

For the first time in nearly two years, the performing arts company Encore Theatrical Arts Project (ETAP) was able to put on their yearly holiday show, “Christmas Is Just Around the Corner,” with Iyer as the first person on stage. The performers dance to a variety of holiday melodies, such as “Jingle Bells”. 

“When I saw the audience cheering after the lights came on, the feeling was like no other,” Iyer said. “That energy carried through the entirety of the performance.”  

Iyer expresses his artistry by posting dance videos of his own choreography on his Instagram @v1las_iy3r, allowing him to grow in confidence with his performances. Iyer started taking hip-hop classes in first grade so he could get his body moving and become less stiff, which has helped him relieve stress. He also learns ballet, jazz, tap and contemporary styles of dance. 

“I didn’t know back then that those first classes would have that much of an impact on me,” Iyer said. “Being up on stage and seeing everyone in the audience excited to watch gives me the best enjoyment.” 

Initially, Iyer was one of the only male dancers in ETAP and he said he felt uncomfortable being around only girls. Outside of dance, he faced issues with others who ridiculed him for being part of a female-dominated art form. As he gained more confidence he realized he had to overcome that hurdle if he wanted to continue dancing to the best of his ability.

“Vilas is such a fun person to dance around because he’s totally fine with dancing as big as he wants and he’s not afraid of people’s judgment,” freshman Leila Zarnegar said. “He is so fun to watch and such a great inspiration for all of us [dancers].”

One of Iyer’s favorite aspects of dance is the people he gets to interact with. He enjoys watching different dancers express themselves, and then draws inspiration from their work to influence his own choreography. He credits the positive community he found with dance for supporting him and pushing him to reach new heights in his artistry as a dancer.

“Vilas always dances with passion and pure emotion,” freshman Jillian Felder said. “He’s entertaining and an amazing dancer to watch.”

Although many view dance as a sport, Iyer views it as a composition of art, music and movement. 

“I see dance as a celebration of humanity, entertainment [and] emotion,” Iyer said. “While there is competitive dance, it is so much more than just a sport in my eyes.”

On Feb. 17, Iyer won first place at the school talent show. As for the future, Iyer sees himself dancing in college and for the rest of his life. He’s found a way to balance his passion for dance with the slight awkwardness he used to feel by concentrating on why he dances and trusting his body to deliver a story. He hopes to continue choreographing.

“I realized that dancing won’t feel good unless I feel good, because the most important thing about being a dancer is confidence,” Iyer said.