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Pune celebs tell us why its important to dance like nobody’s watching

April 29 International Dance Day: Celebrity choreographers and dancers share the day’s significance in their lives and ways in which Pune can improve its dance scene

pune Updated: Apr 28, 2019 16:28 IST
Anjali Shetty
Anjali Shetty
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,dance,International Dance Day
The day was first held by International Dance Council (IDC) in 1982. The council has announced ‘Dance and Spirituality’ as the theme for this year.(HT PHOTO)

With an aim to create awareness regarding dance as an art form, April 29 is celebrated as dance day worldwide. The day was first held by International Dance Council (IDC) in 1982. The council has announced ‘Dance and Spirituality’ as the theme for this year.

We speak to celebrity choreographers and dancers on the importance of the day, their opinion on the dance scene in the city and steps to improve the art.

Significance of the day

While some believe that a single day is not enough to honour the art form, others are glad that there is at least one day dedicated to talk about it. Dance, over the years, has evolved from just being a hobby to a full-fledged profession. Ashley Lobo, celebrity choreographer, thinks that the day is important as people come together to celebrate the art form.

When Marzi Pestonji, celebrity choreographer, was growing up, he never celebrated the day. He says, “Today, it is a big day as a lot of people are making a living by dancing. I am very proud to be a part of this growing community. International Dance Day also means seeing, creating and exploring new styles, and more importantly, making a difference through dance. And, of course, the most important thing: this day means to me, ‘Have Feet. Will Dance’.”

For dancer Melvin Louis, the last week of April has always been special as it not only has a special dance day, but also marks his birthday week. “There are tons of dance day celebrations around the world and it marks the birthday of the creator of modern ballet Jean-Georges Noverre as well. I’m happy to see people dance every time and dance in general makes and keeps everyone happy. It’s the best way to rejuvenate and I’m happy to learn that most people tend to pursue it during this week. In India, with vacations on, we have a lot of young enthusiasts enrolling for dance classes.”

Rahul Shetty, choreographer, shares, “Dance is one such kind of sport where you don’t win or lose, you just get better. The day is special as it is all about celebrating my talent and the happiness that I get while I am on the floor.”

Need to increase the popularity of profession.

Dancing can be more popular as a profession only if it is introduced as a mainstream subject in schools and universities. Shetty says, “Free dance workshops by well-known artists in the city will improve the knowledge of dancers in the city. The digital medium can be used by aspiring dancers.”

Shiamak Davar, dance guru and choreographer, feels the most important thing is word of mouth, because even if you have reality shows and great dancing, eventually it’s about training. “Training is the answer, education is the answer. So for that, one has to be very, very sure that one has to have a great word of mouth about your classes based on the quality on the teachers and their training.”

Lobo, who forte lies in international styles, believes for the profession to become more popular we need a lot more role models. He adds, “For this training professionally in ballet, jazz and the technical styles is a must. This is the only way for the knowledge to be on par with dancers overseas and artists from here will actually have a chance to compete on an international level.”

The best way to increase popularity is to create new styles, invent new dance forms and fresh choreography, make it different from what you see all the time, adds Pestonji.

Another suggestion is that the more corporate houses and government may engage these artists in programmes, the more they will indirectly help support the movement of dance. Gitikka Ganju Dhar, dancer and actor, says, “The Indian experiential industry has been of great support to dancers and choreographers of all genres as they are widely engaged to perform at launches, concerts, ceremonies and galas. The film industry too has helped keep alive dance in the mainstream. The audiences now need to play their role, buy tickets and view more often dance recitals, ballets and dance dramas.”

Changes needed in Pune

Experts are of the opinion that Pune has been able to provide some great talent to industries across. The dance scene has seen a tremendous growth over the years and that reflects through Puneites’ participation in reality shows. Louis says, “Pune has a very high turnout for art always. Dance in the past decade has rapidly grown in the city. The Pune youth are very enthusiastic and participative, they are also hungry to explore. More workshops by international choreographers and dance festivals can be the key to push the dance scene. It will be great to further amplify it with open platform (open stage) showcases that give opportunity to dancers and choreographers to present their creativity without having to bear a cost.”

A clearer understanding of the dance culture overseas is a must. Right now in India it’s still stuck at a choreography and open class level. People watch social media and follow what and who is popular with no in-depth understanding of the actual industry as it stands overseas. Lobo adds, “What may be highly recognised here may not even be seen as serious dance overseas. Also, in India there is no long term structured training. Most dancers are functional trained not professionally trained and that’s because they are following social media stars instead of a real dance education. This must definitely change and to this end I recently partnered to start a credited dance course pro-dance for children as well as a professional dance certificate programme (PDCP) for adults at The Danceworx in Delhi. I feel this is the only way for us to compete at a realistic level internationally in any style besides the street and pedestrian ones.”

Pestonji shares, “I think Pune has been a great city in terms of talented dancers. I just feel more and more people need to come out and explore their ability and opportunities available to them. Currently, we only see a certain set of dancers who are out there, but there are many more who need to trust their talent and explore the possibility of making dance their career.”

Davar adds, “I think in Pune we just need good instructors and good institutions that have really done their homework and not just classes that spring up every 5 seconds with half-paid teachers because after all dancing is a very serious art and you can harm peoples’ bodies if you don’t know to teach them correctly.”

First Published: Apr 28, 2019 16:26 IST