Nearly 50 dancer-choreographers of the Mumbai-based hip-hop dance group Kings United have been on a sabbatical since the beginning of the pandemic, as live performances and workshops came to a grinding halt. “Health and safety of our dancers and their families are a top priority. Work and money can wait,” says Suresh Mukund, the group’s founder-choreographer. However, on May 16, as the World Choreography Awards 2020 were announced, the team had its morale booster coming in the form of an award — best choreography in the TV reality show category — at the World of Dance Season 3 .
“We are proud of winning the award; it’s been a tough time for all of us,” says Suresh, speaking days after the announcement. Kings United had won NBC’s reality show World of Dance Season 3 , which also fetched the dance group an Emmy nomination (for the category Outstanding Choreography For Variety Or Reality Programming, 2019).
This had put Kings United in the reckoning and the dance group had been signed for national and international performances, many of which were cancelled following the COVID-19 outbreak.
Looking back, Suresh is pleased with the journey so far: “A few years ago, not many would have thought an Indian hip-hop dance group would come this far.”
He took a keen interest in dancing at 12, when he tried to imitate Hrithik Roshan’s moves from Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai . In the mid-2000s, the internet had opened up his world to international dance videos. “The television show Boogie Woogie brought about a change in perception. Until then people mostly referred to dance forms as Indian or western dance,” he remembers.
His interest in dance was met with both enthusiasm and scepticism at home, as his parents were concerned that he should have a stable career plan. He took up business management in graduation, but the growing interest in dance was tough to ignore. He practised, taught others and was keen to see where it all leads to.
He and his friend Parth Vyas formed Fictitious Dance Group in 2009; Suresh had participated and got noticed at Boogie Woogie and season two of India’s Got Talent . “Even then, I think my parents were only partially convinced about dance as a career. The turning point came in 2012 when we made it to the finals of the World Hip Hop Dance Championship,” he recalls.
That moment of glory would later be captured in the Hindi film ABCD 2 starring Varun Dhawan.
In 2015, Suresh formed Kings United, after he left the Fictitious group owing to creative differences. “The international recognition for Kings United in the last couple of years means a lot to me and my group. Some of them had joined me as teens. We don’t want to stop. Once things get back to normal, we hope to travel the world and perform.”
In the meantime, Suresh is also training to be an actor and is keen to explore Hindi cinema.