HOT shoes, COOL steps

There's an explosion of spontaneity at O2, Nungambakkam. Hep cats in black are on the dance floor swirling and twirling their partners. It's Salsa-lacious one minute, Jazz-y the next, as Chennai's footloose man Jeffery Vardon and his team traverse a dozen styles with ditties to match. With dance-till-dawn energy they go about the rehearsal for the Hot Shoe Dance Company's annual show scheduled for March 6.

Taking a break, Jeffery talks with involvement about the upcoming show and his happening career. "This time, it's not theme based. `Dance 5 - The Hot Shoe Show' will feature an assortment of styles including contemporary Indian, Tango, Salsa, Hip-hop, Rock n' Roll, Funk and Jazz-ballet. It's deliberately this way. Themes have their own limitations when it comes to exploring styles."

It's not just the fusion of forms; Jeffery has other surprises as well. Like the "Polythene experiment" for instance, in which dancers "use a huge polythene sheet to create waves on the stage. Imagine the impact with digital lighting, 6,000 rmp sound, stylised costumes and props. Wow!" he adds with gay abandon.

And yes, as delicate silhouettes emerge from the waves for the first number, which is an innovative combination of "artistic, modern and contemporary Indian (fusion of mudras and modern dance movements)," you are transported to a world of fantasy. Basically, the first half underlines bodyline and balance. The second, which is more Latin American, is about fun and attitude. "That's not all, we are also exploring the possibility of dancing on mirrors. If things go on fine, it's likely to happen," he says, crossing his fingers.

"This time, we have captured the rehearsal on digital camera to work on the finer aspects of lighting and music. So, on the day of the show, the lighting will be controlled by the click of a button," says the dance star, whose experiments cover the technical aspects as well.

A trained ballet dancer, Jeffery went on to learn Bharatanatyam, before hitting the world dance floor at Melbourne's Victorian Dance Company. Tap dancing, Hip-hop, Latin American and Ballroom styles... he learnt them all at Melbourne. His passion for contemporary dance took him to work with the Imlata Dance Company, U.K. The stage is just one facet of Jeffery's work. He also dabbles in film and ad choreography. "Films, however, are not my cup of tea. The work culture and protracted schedules somehow put me off," says Jeffery, whose last number for tinsel town was for Kamal Hassan's "Alavandhan."

At the Hot Shoe Dance Company that he has been running successfully for six years, people come to "follow the art seriously as well as just beat stress and let their hair down. Kids too form part of the Co. Watch them perform lively rock n'roll numbers at the forthcoming show.

"Two decades ago, when I took to dancing, there was so much scepticism about dance as a career. Today, things have changed. Parents are so enthusiastic about enrolling their kids. That speaks for itself," says Jeffery, as he retreats for yet another round of fire and grace on the dance floor. And the bunch of youngsters follows. Hot shoes. Cool attitudes. Blithe spirits!

For tickets to the show contact O2 Health Studio, Khader Nawaz Khan Road; Odyssey, Adyar or Landmark. For details call 98400 88451/ 98402 02065.