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Anjali Ullandupitiya : The dancing jewel from the hills

By Mahika Panditha

As I have mentioned before, scrolling through TikTok has become an absolute staple in almost everyone’s day. I admit, I may be on it a little more than I should be – it is my biggest distraction these days – but with that being said, I come across some really talented individuals that way! It just further proves the point that our country is bursting at the seams with talent.

I am sure that this young individual has been all over your FYP the same way she has been over mine – she is Anjali Ullandupitiya (@anjaliii.u). She is currently a content-creator and is her own boss! She is a freelance model, dancer, and, as she says, a full-time shopaholic! Anjali was born and raised in Kandy, and has been dancing since she was a little girl. What started out as her mother’s wishes soon turned into her passion and here we are now.

“Dancing keeps me happy and alive as it involves a lot of fun,” she shared. We had the chance to catch up with Anjali earlier this week, and here is what she had to say!

We have to talk about TikTok first! Tell us how you started on it and about your growth thus far.

I have been on this app since it was “Musically”, which was mainly “lip-syncing” back then. Later it was renamed/relaunched as “TikTok”, making it an open platform for everyone to dance at their own pace. Initially, I did pieces for fun, but with my flair for dancing, I was able to make some creative outgoing content. At one point, I got swamped with requests urging me to make more creative content, which, I believe, my turning point was. This made me make my personal account public; with over 100-plus content that I have already made, I realised my fear for appearance in public had faded.

Endless follower requests along with positive feedback gave me more confidence; there were also negative comments which freaked me out at times, but with all ups and downs, I was happily sailing through to reach where I’m today and I realised it was not a calm sea always. Currently, my account is followed by more than 200K followers and I’ve gained around 2.1 million likes. I’m extremely proud as a 19-year-old for what I’ve been able to make by doing what I love, and most importantly, for being able to bring a smile to thousands of faces.

How do you find inspiration for your content?

My mother is the biggest influence of my life and all that I do – no exception with the content I make on TikTok. She herself has her own TikTok account and keeps track of all trends; she endlessly encourages me to be more creative with positive insights. This has been a key inspiration throughout my journey. Apart from doing all that, she also helps me with screening and filming, and makes all changes to fit with the trends. Secretly, she’s young at heart and understands how things should be done for the next generations, and I’m blessed with her support. She’s my biggest critic – manager in action who gives me the final approval for all content before they get posted. As we all know, “mama knows the best”.

Could you talk us through your creating process?

Well, what’s important at creation for me is how this will inspire my viewers and what message I can deliver with what I do. I would happily go with all trends that are catchy, yet take them in a challenging way. I would try my best to make content that will challenge my followers to try out and will simply entertain them by giving a glimpse of happiness. I love to diversify my content, not having to stick to one sort of content. I like exploring different trends – dancing, lip-syncing, transitions, make-up videos, etc. Eventually, my aspiration is to give my viewers something different to make them excited and to make them more interactive.

Describe your dance style to us.

I started learning the initial steps of dancing from Ms. Sansala Silva, where I was mainly following traditional Kandyan dancing and bharatanatyam under her guidance. I must say, it was a solid foundation that she laid for me. Having learned the basics of dancing in these areas, I always wanted to learn modern techniques and styles as well and gain more exposure into unseen areas of dancing.

Unfortunately, at present, I’m not practising any of those traditional forms of dancing as I’m mostly engaged with hip hop, lyrical, contemporary, jazz, afro, etc. I must also thank Ms. Denathi Pussegoda, who has helped me later in many ways to shape up my career in dancing. She has been a mentor, a co-dancer, a friend, and a great sister to me. In brief, my dancing style is more of a combination of different styles to fit with music which always turns out to be a magical output.

Could you give us an insight into what goes on behind the scenes (creating, planning, scheduling content, etc.)?

Well, my initial thought with any new content is to fit with the trend and it should be more creative. So I would always take time to watch related clips, and if it happens to be an easy routine, it would only take me a couple of seconds to learn it. If it’s a little more challenging trend, then it would take me a few minutes with some extra work where I would dig into more resources. Once I’ve decided on a trend, the next aspect is my outfit – the colour-coding and if I should wear any makeup. The next thing I focus on is the appropriate location to film it and if there’s enough lighting to maintain the quality of my content. In terms of planning/time allocation, I just decide a day prior and I shoot as planned, and then post it on the next day after a review is done.

On the other hand, the BTS on some days can be very hectic; one occasion, I filmed a TikTok of me dancing in the rain, but unfortunately, it wasn’t actually raining, so my mother had to help me with holding a water sprinkle to make it look like it was raining for real.

What have been some of the best memories you had the chance to experience through your online presence?

The best memories I have made through my online presence were making new friends and meeting some amazing people. A must-tell is that thanks to all that online presence, I was able to gain and maintain a pretty good level of self-confidence, which has completely faded my fear of public appearance. Also, working on this platform, it has shown me different paths like modeling with upscale brands, advertisements, etc. Those were more like opportunities for me to shape myself up in this industry. So making content has also paved the path for my career as a dancer/model.

Other than Tik Tok, what do you enjoy doing?

Well, out of TikTok, I love spending my time with my family and hanging out with my friends, as it’s well within my comfort zone and a huge reality check for me. I love binging anything on Netflix and sleeping when I’m bored. Out of all this, one thing I really enjoy is taking my doggo out for a walk, who happens to be a gift from heaven.

What advice do you have for your viewers?

What the viewers need to understand is that TikTok is just another open platform for them to be happy by seeing some content created by someone. I would encourage all my viewers to spread positive vibes and to be the best version of themselves on and off the app. Negative feedback can always be accepted as far as it comes with room for improvement, but not with an abundance of hatred, which is highly common these days. I think we should collectively work against this to make sure online platforms are safely used, making room for anyone to create their own content and to share with. At the end of the day, it’s just an art piece that someone has made giving an option for you to either embrace it or to pass it on. I genuinely appreciate criticism. Love each and every one of my followers and viewers who have made me who I am today. Spread love and positivity!

Any upcoming projects you can talk to us about?

I do have a few exciting projects coming up and I would like to keep them a surprise.

 

PHOTOS © Ihthi Fahim