The dancing queen

The dancing queen

in conversation

The dancing queen

How do you get a star who’s rushing from one interview to another to relax and have a conversation with you? Well, you just start off on a subject that is synonymous with her. To Madhuri Dixit, dance is life, and as the judge of the latest dance reality show, she is only too happy to let her thoughts flow.

“Dance as a form is being embraced by so many people now, it’s really heartening. We’ve gone through a period when it was frowned upon, now parents encourage children to take it up as a career. That’s such a positive change,” she says, beaming.

Making of a dancer

Twenty-six years ago, when she set the stage on fire grooving to “Ek Do Teen”, there was not one who doubted that she had come in like a breath of fresh air in Bollywood. Scores of youngsters wanted to dance like her, dress like her — she shot up the popularity charts and became an inspiration to many. Like a twist of the kaleidoscope, “Ek Do Teen” ushered in a new style — the Madhuri style. “When you watch Waheedaji, Meena Kumariji or Vyjayanthimalaji, you realise they had such amazing grace. Theirs was an era where song and dance were an integral part of the film. We had a phase after that where only glamour, and not dance became the routine. What happened with “Ek Do Teen”, as I understand, is that dance returned to the screen. It had expressions and movement and yes, it had glam!” she says.

Talking about the varying influences of styles and time on dance in Bollywood, she says, “Each of the actors has a distinct style. Take Shammiji, he was so Elvis! Madhubalaji used Western elements in her dance style. The youngsters today use contemporary and lyrical ways. Bollywood is an amalgamation of different styles — you can find belly dancing hobnobbing with b-boying or Latin or street. I think that’s beautiful — where else will you find this? It’s what makes us unique,” she emphasises.

Magical moves

So You Think You Can Dance also pits one style of dancing against the other — street versus stage with Madhuri’s co-judges Bosco and Terence Lewis representing them respectively. Ask if she has been brought in to balance the scales and she immediately responds, “Not at all! It isn’t as if the judges are in a face off; we are here to judge the best of dancers. I have a bit of both street and stage in me. I have studied kathak and love street style, and I think it’s a tremendous idea to pitch talented dancers against each other because it takes the performances right up there.” The format of the show has dancers competing with each other’s styles and then challenging themselves by adapting to their competitor’s style.

Asked what she thinks of celebrities from a non-core competency area sitting in the hot seat for a dance reality show, and she responds with a shrug of her shoulders. “It’s a channel’s prerogative. Possibly they are looking for a completely different take on the performance. For instance, I have worked with Karan Johar, he is not a dancer. But his understanding of dance, thanks to his films, is immense. So when he judges, it is with a different eye. Also, to my complete surprise, he turned out to be an entertaining dancer,” she giggles.

With an online dance academy, relevant reality shows and a couple of hard-hitting roles, here is one actor who is slowly but surely chalking out her own path in Bollywood. “What do I say? I’ve always gone with what my heart says. My heart said yes to Dedh Ishqiya and Gulaab Gang, and I signed up. It said yes for the dance show and here I am. You will only see me in roles I feel strongly about,” she wraps up.

 Dance with the Whirling Queen

The woman who has revolutionised Bollywood dancing with her numbers “Ek Do Teen”, “Dhak Dhak”, “Choli Ke Peeche”, “Didi Tera Devar Deewana”, “Maar Dala” and “Dola Re Dola”, to pick a few, is also instrumental in taking the dancing dream to scores of dance enthusiasts with her online dance academy — Dance With Madhuri. Apart from her, it features top choreographers and dance teachers, who guide students step-by-step.

“I never wanted it to be a physical academy because the reach would remain limited. The idea to start an online academy occurred when I realised that a lot of youngsters are relying on the internet to learn their dance steps. I have kept it comprehensive yet affordable, because I want more people, irrespective of their age, to learn in the
comfort of their room, to overcome their hesitation and to dance.”