Shiamak Davar: 'I found strength from humiliation'
This contemporary dance choreographer is renowned for calling thousands of Indians to contemporary jazz and other western dance forms.
He serves thousands of dance enthusiasts through Shiamak Davar's Institute for Performing Arts (SDIPA).
In 1998 Shiamak Davar won the National Film Award for Best Choreography for his work in Bollywood film Dil To Pagal Hai. Excerpts from an interview where he talks about his life journey...
Did you always want to become a dancer?
Performing arts was in my blood since childhood. I participated in plays and musicals though at that time singing was my being.
Dance happened much later and with master classes abroad, I realised my talent for it.
Tell us about your first performance...
Probably in my living room with a coke bottle as my mike and performing for my family and friends as a kid!
The stage really feels like home, so whether it was theatre or dance, the rush that you get from of a live audience and the energy they give, is unreal.
How did you go professional?
It was a humble beginning with just seven students when I started my dance institute, and the struggle and rejection was tremendous.
But I knew that dance and the performing arts is the reason for my existence so I kept going.
What hurdles did you face?
Twenty years back, dance as a profession was unheard of -- especially western style.
People would say boys don't dance and girls who come to dance class would find it hard to get married!
Western jazz required them to wear fitted leotards -- this was scorned upon. But I found strength from the humiliation and trusted God and my ability.
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Image: Shiamak Davar
'Half- baked knowledge will yield half-hearted results'
Your most memorable moments...
Receiving the national award for choreography at a time when I thought Bollywood would not accept my western style, performing and choreographing the Commonwealth Games; performing for Oprah, Bill Clinton and the likes.
And getting a surprise call to choreograph Mission Impossible 4!
How serious is dance education in India?
The SDIPA programme takes dance to schools as a part of their regular curriculum that helps students develop their personality and stimulates their mind. Schools across the country have received this extremely well and the results have been fantastic.
Parents have seen a change in their children and they improve focus, concentration, coordination and team spirit.
The society has really opened up and is realising what performing arts can really do.
Your advice to budding choreographers...
Be original. First train yourselves, gain knowledge, know the right technique, recognise your niche and then develop it.
Your choreography should reflect your personality. Respect the art and give it complete commitment.
Half- baked knowledge will yield half-hearted results, work hard and have patience.
Image: Shiamak Davar with his troupe
Photographs: Coutesy Careers360.com