Pernia Qureshi Gilani is a style icon by any measure. From successfully launching her own e-commerce businesses to dabbling with styling and above all enjoying fashion through every phase of her life, she lives the life people write about in magazines. Through it all, Qureshi Gilani has been faithful to one discipline above all-dance. Formally trained in Kuchipudi and Kathak, she often takes to the metier to express herself. Beyond performances, Qureshi Gilani enjoys the therapeutic and transformative nature of dance. Ahead we spoke to her about why it holds such an important place in her life.
At what age did you develop an interest in Kuchipudi? Was it always Kuchipudi for you?
I discovered Kuchipudi at the age of 17 in my first semester at college. Until then I was a Kathak dancer, I started that at the age of 3 or 4. I was doing a Minor in Dance at college and signed up for Kuchipudi since it was the only Indian dance form being offered from all the classes. When I came back to Delhi for my summer holidays I did some research and found my Gurus Raja Radha and Kaushalya Reddy. I have been with them since.
In what aspects would you say dance has helped you and shaped your personality?
Dance has given me hope, stability, joy and discipline in all stages of my life. Dance seems to have been my only constant. It is the one thing I do purely for me and expect nothing in return, yet it gives me so much!
From a mental health perspective, would you say dance helps in any way?
Every life coach, therapist and doctor suggests for people to dance. There is a reason for that. It is directly connected to happiness. Everyone should dance, it is not only for people who want to pursue a career in it.
What about dance brings you joy?
Dance is the medium in which I express myself, through my face and my whole body. It is the one time my mind is free from worldly problems and I become one with myself. The joy comes from that sense of meditation. You are also burning several calories and releasing endorphins which create happy hormones while dancing.
Besides Kuchipudi, what other forms do you practise?
I do Kathak every now and then. Apart from that I have a lot of fun doing semi classical and Bollywood dance videos and choreographies that I find on Instagram.
There is a certain element of style and getting dressed attached to classical dance forms in India. As a style curator do you enjoy the ceremony of it?
I love it. When I am dressed for a performance I feel transported. There is so much pride and joy in representing the ancient traditions and legacy of this great nation that is so rich in culture.