By Jyothi Venkatesh
How easy is it for a person to dance from his or her home?
Dancing from home is very easy as it is as per one’s convenience and one’s own comforts too. At the same time the person can keep revisiting the online videos and keep revising what was taught in the previous sessions. I believe learning dance online is a means of total comfortable learning.
In what way are online dancing classes a substitute to real physical dance classes?
In this lockdown phase we have no other option but to learn dance online. Though I strongly believe that a physical dance class can give a student an online class can never provide that warmth, dance is a form of art and to learn any art one has to personally and physically learn under a teacher. the warmth, the discipline, the techniques that can be taught and imparted physically, an online class is no match to that.
Is it true that you are also all set to train your students on FB too? In what way?
Yes, it is true that my online classes are currently being conducted through Facebook live, dance enthusiasts from all over the world are joining the session and learning with me and I feel happy about it. Apart from India, I have dance lovers from Philippines, USA, UK, South Africa, Ireland, Germany, Netherlands and many more countries who join the session and many more see the repeat videos. Though the online classes are very successful I still miss my physical classes.
Why are you not taking up assignments as a choreographer in films like say Saroj Khan, Farah Khan or Remo D’Souza, who have become directors?
ha ha, I am not getting many assignments in films, guess today the directors and producers are looking for younger talent and they find me old, ha ha. There are a few films that I have recently choreographed for but not as much as I used to do before. I also believe that today directors are looking for cheaper teams and choosing the right choreographer is not the priority any more the way it was a few years back.
Have you written a book on your illustrated career as a choreographer ?
Ha ha , you really think people would be interested to know about my life? Ha Ha. I wonder.
When did you start your dance classes?
I started my classes in Mumbai 20 years back, with just a handful of students and today I feel humbled to say that we have many branches in Mumbai, a few In India and also a few international branches. Apart from that I have a long list of students who have learnt with me and are still learning with me.
How many years have you devoted to choreography?
Initial days of dance was learning and then it was all about performance and today apart from performance it is also teaching and choreographing. About 25 years of choreography work and 20 years of teaching along with a life long of dancing.
In what way are Indian as well as International dancing different from one another?
To me dance is dance. it has the same soul. we put it in different molds of classical, folk, and international. We categorize them as spiritual, ritual, social, performance, devotional etc. To me all dances are just the same, a medium to connect with the divine, a way to understand oneself, the best way to make a conversation with the almighty. Like everyone prays in a different way, some go to temple, some to a church, some to mosque but finally we all pray to the divinity the same way various dance forms are a medium to reach that force.
Who are your favorite Indian as well as International dancers. including actors and actresses?
I will talk of my students only, from bollywood I love Kajol, I think she is a fabulous dancer and films have not really tapped that side of hers at all. I also find Priyanka Chopra extremely dedicated, I worked with her on many projects and I simply love the way she executes her dance. Of Course Hrithik is totally unmatched. In Hollywood I feel there is no one like Madonna, even today she can give the younger people a run for their money. Shakira has some amazing moves and an incredible body to match.
Your all time dance film in Hindi till date?
I have loved all the films of my mami, Vyjayanthimala Bali, there has been no dancer like her and I am super proud that I am her nephew. From Sangam to Nagin to Devdas or even Kathputli or Madhumati or Amrapali and Jewel thief she has danced in each film so differently and so beautifully that she has and will also be an icon for not only our family but for the entire film world.
Your all time Hollywood dance film till date?
I love dance films from Hollywood, there are many. Strictly Ballroom, Mad about Mambo, Take the Lead, Shall We Dance, Chicago, Dance With me all have been path breaking and have shown ballroom dancing very beautifully.
Have you contemplated on taking up acting in films since you are tall and handsome?
I recently did a film with a very interesting message and a very controversial name ‘I am Not a Porn Star Nazar Sambhal Ke’. It is yet to be released though. Let’s see what the future has in store for me.
How do you keep yourself fit and trim?
Yoga and dance are what keep me the way I am, though I also feel that with age catching up now I need to put more effort into keeping up with my fitness.
In what way are dances really necessary in Hindi films today?
dance and music has always been an important part of Indian cinema, almost all our films are musical and that is the best part about our films.I remember when I went representing the Indian Dance world at the cannes film festival and also at other prestigious film festivals all over the world people were only talking about the song and dance routines in our films. But today I feel dance in Indian films has totally lost its charm, it has become very athletic and looks like an exercise routine. The grace, the expressions have all gone and we only see dancers jumping, flipping and splitting. to me that is not dance.
How many classes do you have every day and how many batches?
We have classes daily at some center or the other and about 3 batches each day. So a student can never miss a class, we give them the opportunity to dance at any center at any given time.
What is your view on Corona Virus?
It is unfortunate that the world is going through this horrible pandemic, I just pray that this gets over soon and we all get back to our lives with new vision and new hope. If we take care of things that have been told to us I am sure we can fight this together. It is important to maintain positivity, and follow all the rules with sincerity to fight this war against this death threatening virus. Like I say during my online classes Corona Se Darona – Dance Karte Rahona
In what way do you think a dancer scores over an actor?
A dancer has great understanding of his or her own body, gestures and expressions, also a good dancer has fantastic understanding of costume, make up, hair along with lights, stage and space, all this makes it easy for a dancer to act. I believe that every good dancer can be a good actor but every good actor might not be a good dancer.
Name your five dear friends among actors in Bollywood today?
Sharbani Mukherjee, Sangeeta Bijlani, Ameesha Patel, Raveena Tandon, Yukta Mookhey are some actors I often talk to and take advice from.
Has one failed marriage put you off marriage in future too?
Ha ha … Well I believe ‘never say never’ but yes failed marriage has surely made me pull up my guards. So this time if marriage happens it will happen with a lot of thought, though as of now I am enjoying my time with my son and seeing him grow is an experience that I cannot compare with anything in the world.
Is dancing an art which is good for both males as well as females? Why?
Dancing is great for everyone, gender does not matter, age or size does not matter too. Dance helps a person to connect socially, physically, emotionally and spiritually. To dance is like being blessed and who would want to miss out on a golden opportunity like this.