Over the last couple of months, Terence Lewis has been travelling extensively within the country. Not to the metros, but to smaller cities like Ullhasnagar, Nagpur, Meerut, Sonipat, Bhubneshwar, Panipat, Vadodara, Jodhpur and Ahmedabad. The choreographer and Zee TV show Dance India Dance (DID) judge wants to provide budding talent in these places with a platform for professional dance.
“I’m not interested in opening branches of the Terence Lewis academy in these towns. That would not be fair to those (local dance schools) who have been thriving on this business,” says Terence. “Instead, we organise sample workshops for those interested in learning contemporary dance in small towns and want proper training to become teachers in the future. For the extensive courses (in Mumbai), we have scholarships and installment-based payments. For those who can’t afford that, we introduce them to videos that our academy has shot, which are available online for free.”
For some time now, Terence has been receiving requests to judge local shows in these cities that have been inspired by DID. After he attended a few, he noticed that almost all the dancers wanted to train further and were keen to participate in TV reality shows. So he decided to travel to these towns more regularly to organise workshops.
“There are so many contests that have mushroomed, like Jamshedpur Dance or Jharkhand Dance,” he says. “They have all learnt dance techniques by watching YouTube videos and TV shows. And they’re amazing.”
Terence has now created a bank of the names of dancers who have won the contests he has judged. “These kids will not have to go through the first few levels of auditioning for DID’s next season,” he says.
While reality TV shows have been responsible to a great extent for popularising dance in these places, the choreographer also feels the trend has taken the focus away from the art itself. “It has now shifted to fame. In a way, they aren’t concentrating on dance. But at least they are aware now that there is dignity in dancing,” he says.