Step up on International Dance Day

Future forward (Top) Ashley Lobo and (below) Terence Lewis

Future forward (Top) Ashley Lobo and (below) Terence Lewis  


Two choreographers talk about how the online space is influencing Indian dancers

Dance in India has moved way past the eight classical forms recognised by the Sangeet Natak Akademi. There are ballet, hip hop and contemporary dancers, along with pretty much any genre you can think of. World over, we are increasingly known for more than just our Bollywood dance.

Take 16-year-old Amit Shah for instance — last year, he was accepted to American Ballet Theatre’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School in New York, making headlines the world over. Not least because the youngster was a welder’s son.

Numerous reality TV shows in India have become a platform for aspiring dancers to make a name for themselves. And to stand out, they experiment with form and technique, pushing the boundaries of what has been practised in the country so far. These dancers have gone on to build large fan bases on social media, where they frequently share their work.

Beyond horizons

Terence Lewis, Mumbai-based choreographer and popular judge on Nach Baliye 5 and Dance India Dance, says that the internet has had a positive influence on dancers in the country. “Earlier, people might have thought that their teacher is the best. Now, the benchmark has risen. The knowledge of how dance is approached across the world is keeping us on our toes, and making sure we do not remain mediocre,” he says.

It is not just about improving our own standards. Social media followings have charted the way for international collaborations, which Lewis says have “brought cultures and dancers together”. While these encouraging stories are increasing in number, veteran choreographer Ashley Lobo feels that there is a flip side as well. “I was at the Czech Republic a year back, and when people saw the kind of work I was judging, they were quick to ridicule the standards,” says the dancer, who has 35 years of experience, and is in the industry since 1994.

Long way ahead

It has to do with the fact that the influence of global styles has only made its appearance quite recently. “The international community needs to understand that we’ve only been doing this for about two decades, compared to their centuries of practice. Besides, the language of our native dances are completely different, whereas they progress from ballet to jazz to contemporary quite seamlessly,” he says.

Lewis says that the way forward is to keep improving. “To really excel,” he tells aspiring dancers, “is to ask yourself why you’re doing this? Dance itself should make you happy. It shouldn’t be about the frills that come with it.”

Watch Step Up on April 29 at 10.45 am on Sony PIX.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 1:03:40 PM |

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