‘Performing is my life’s purpose’ 

Bollywood choreographer Shiamak Davar says dance is now viewed as a viable career option now

I started singing and performing at an early age. I used to love playing the piano and performing for my family and friends. I was only in my living room, but I used to think of myself as a legend.

Performing arts were the most natural choice for me. My granduncle Homi Wadi and his wife Mary Wadia (Nadia Hunterwali) were closely associated with Indian cinema. Thanks to them, I spent a lot of time on movie sets. At home, my parents exposed me to a wide range of international music.  I ventured into theatre by acting in stage productions with Alyque Padamsee.

During a visit to London, I chanced upon a dance studio, and I decided to attend the classes. The ballet teacher was shocked to hear it was my first time and told me that I was a natural. I was motivated to keep going. I attended masterclasses and workshops at Pineapple Dance Studios and the Guildford School of Acting and Dance, both in the UK. When I returned to India, I started taking western jazz dance classes. 

I come from a family of educators. I decided to simply bring my passion for dancing to the field of education. It wasn’t easy. Dancing wasn’t accepted as a career when I started out, for men or women. And here I was trying to begin a dance school for Western Jazz, a form that wasn’t popular at the time. 

When I was offered ‘Dil Toh Pagal Hai’, I was was worried that my style was too western for Bollywood. Yash uncle, Shah Rukh and Gauri, believed in me and insisted that I do this film. The choreography in the movie was a first for Bollywood dancing and it sort of set the tone for what was to come in the future. Dance has always played an integral role in our cinemas. Today, it has a better form, it has become more stylised and structured. Bollywood dancing has become a global phenomenon. 

The talent in our country is unbelievable. You will find so many skilled dancers in the interiors of our country. They just need an avenue, and that is what I hope to provide with my school. I knew that dancing was my calling and I just followed my instinct.

The last thirty years has been a revolution of sorts, and I was able to witness it first hand. People have begun viewing dance as a respected, viable career option. In fact, all forms of art and performing arts have found longevity, and a plethora of opportunities is available now in all these fields.

For me, dance is everything. Everyone has a purpose, and mine, I believe, is the performing arts. There is a sense of fulfillment I feel when I choreograph and perform. It aligns my mind, body and spirit; it heals, and it helps me stay connected with myself.

(The author is a choreographer)

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