Reality shows on television have made dance acceptable to a greater swath of society and cured some stereotypes, says Salman Yusuf Khan

The original might still struggle on the dance floor but this new-age Salman is a master of moves. A mechanical engineer by profession, Salman Yusuf Khan says shows like Dance India Dance and Jhalak Dikhlaa Jaa have given not only opportunity but dignity to people like him. “Coming from a conservative Muslim background, I had never thought I would get respect in a profession like this. It is thanks to dance education through these shows that people have started appreciating the work of choreographers. Today half of Bangalore is my relative. I meet doctors and engineers and they say they want their children to be choreographers,” says Salman, who won the first season of Dance India Dance and clinched the Jhalak title last year with Drishti Dhami.

Be it dressing up or music, Salman says India as a whole is very much influenced by the western culture. “So dance cannot be an island. They love western dance forms. What we choreographers have done is to bring those forms closer home by fusing them with traditional Indian dance forms. We have given a face to what they were watching on the Internet. Now they can watch it with the entire family. If some members want to criticise it, it is their call.”

Salman, who considers himself an expert in ballroom dancing, also broke the perception that dancers are effeminate by participating in Khatron Ke Khiladi where he beat Daya of “CID” fame in the first task. “Absolutely. People used to consider dancers as soft, despite the fact that dance requires a lot of muscle and core strength. Perhaps it has to do with a particular dance form. It takes lot of lung power to practise 8 to 10 hours a day. I love my horse riding and biking and when I got a chance to show my skills in Khatron Ke Khiladi I lapped it up,” says the choreographer who led the cast in his guru Remo D’Souza’s dance-based film ABCD: Anybody Can Dance.

Salman says dance is becoming more of a stress buster. “In many corporate houses it has become a way to release stress and socialise. In fact it is a happy way to stay fit. Today if a man knows how to carry himself on the dance floor he is considered social and flamboyant. Dance has always been an integral part of our culture and now western dance forms have brought it once again to on the forefront.”

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