In Focus : Mumbai’s Global Dance Competition Winners

Indian dance groups from the slums of Mumbai are dancing their way to fame and fortune, winning prestigious global dance competitions in 2019. After all, the world-famous dance contests and their promise of million-dollar grand prize, give Indian dancers opportunities to improve their life at the slums.

Last year, the hip-hop dance crew from Mumbai called “The Kings,” won the World of Dance 2019, a U.S. reality dance contest produced by NBC. The crew of young dancers finally fulfilled their dream, which they failed to achieve when they emerged only as second runner-up in the World Hip Hop Championship in 2015.

After bagging the $1 million grand prize of the 2019 World of Dance, “The King’s” choreographer Suresh Mukund announced that the 15 members of the hip-hop crew will no longer join dance competitions.

Only last February 2020, “V Unbeatable,” another famous dance group from Mumbai’s city slums, emerged as grand winners of America’s Got Talent Global (AGT) Champions Season 15 Edition. The Season 15 win was the acrobatic dance troupe’s second attempt to bag the promised $1 million prize at stake, after emerging only as fourth runner-up in AGT’s Season 14 Edition.

The “V Unbeatable” dance routine included amazing death-defying, ultra-high flying acrobatic acts, besting all other Season 15 AGT Champions performances. However, unlike “The Kings” whose members found fulfillment as they actually took home the promised $1 million prize money, members of the “V Unbeatable” dance troupe aren’t as satisfied. The AGT, despite its global popularity, does not actually award the $1 million prize immediately and in full.

The Truth About AGT’s Prize Scheme

It turns out that the $1 million dollar promise is only the future value of a present day financial investment. An AGT Champion grand winner is given two options on how they can claim their reward, which is similar to how lottery prizes are awarded. If the AGT winner wants to claim a full $1 million value, they will receive it by way of $25,000 annuities up to a period of 40 years.

The other option is to claim the present day value of the $1 million reward, as an alternative to receiving piece-meal annual amounts. According to online entertainment magazine Movie Pilot, the present day value is pegged at $450,426. Still, regardless of the option taken, an AGT grand prize winner also receives a contract to perform at one of Las Vegas’ entertainment venues.

This denotes that if “V Unbeatable” opted for the $25,000 annuity, each of the 29 dancers who performed the death defying acrobatic acts in Season 15, will receive only about $800 per year, which if converted into rupee, amounts to about 58,700 Indian rupees. On a monthly basis, each dancer can expect to receive around 4,900 Indian rupees.

Although they stand to earn more by way of the Las Vegas contract they won, “V Unbeatable” won at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic halted all non-essential businesses. According to local Mumbai news reports, many of the “V Unbeatable” dancers are becoming restless, and still hoping to earn more so they can afford to live their lives out of Mumbai’s slums.