Shiamak Davar is a name that has been synonymous to Bollywood dream sequences and exceptional thumkas on the dance floor since we were all little children glued to our television screens. Watching a fiery Madhuri Dixit and a sensual Karishma Kapoor battling it out on the dance floor was a scene that we yearned to mimic, always failing miserably in the attempt. We get up, close and personal with the choreographer that made all our hearts go chak dhoom dhoom
You started off your career when dance as a career was unheard of. Today, you have made it a viable career option. How did this progress happen?
The dance scenario was very different when I started off thirty years back. People’s perception was dance as an art; especially the western form was very conservative. When I decided to start dance classes, I had only seven students, five of whom were family and friends. But I was very sure that performing arts was my calling, and I wanted to use this as a platform for people to find themselves, realize their true calling and come to a space where they are not judged. Over time, people started understanding the power of dance to heal- mentally, physically and emotionally. Dil Toh Pagal Hai was the turning point in many ways. People appreciated my style of choreography, Bollywood was introduced to fit dancers for the first time and a unique blend of east and the west came into being.
People of all ages come to your dance classes today. Do you believe that everyone is capable of dancing?
My motto is ‘Have Feet. Will Dance’ which is what I stand by. In fact we’ve taken it one step further to ‘Have Spirit. Will Triumph’ as people with special needs also come and dance on stage. Kids from the age of four to my young at heart students even at eighty four come and dance! Dance classes are the best way to de stress, engage in physical exercise, learn various styles and have fun at the same time. Kids have improved at school because dance classes help them with focus and concentration. So many working people come just to relax and let go of all their worries. People make friends for life at dance classes. And at the end we give them a chance to perform on stage that gives everyone an opportunity to feel like stars. I’ve seen people’s lives change, their confidence and their outlook completely transforms!
Today, many youngsters are making their careers in dance. Do you think it has positive prospects in the future?
There is no greater joy than making your passion a profession. Today I have a strong team of instructors who have made a living through dance and are teach as a part of my dance academy across the world. The most important thing is to get the right training and taking time to learn yourself before going ahead and taking it professionally. Half – baked knowledge is the most harmful. Keeping this in mind, I started my full time one year (OYP) and part time half yearly (SHP) programs where I train students in my style of contemporary, introduce them to over ten dance styles where they train with international faculty, understand technique and get opportunities. Students from around the world audition for the OYP and get selected to become a part of my dance company, perform in musicals, teach classes and more.
You have pioneered dance movements in India. From larger than life Bollywood shows to the breath taking contemporary dance shows. What keeps your creativity going?
Music and dance is the reason for my existence! My dancers are my true inspiration. They work extremely hard and make my choreography come alive. Selcouth, my contemporary dance show really reveals the style of choreography closest to my heart. It is what people today refer to as the Shiamak Style, it’s actually a blend of indo contemporary and modern movement. I really feel at home on stage. So whether it is creating a colourful and vibrant image on stage at a Bollywood show or a pure dance based contemporary production, I love choreographing, singing and performing.
What do you have in store for dance enthusiasts now?
Winter Funk starts in October which gives everyone an opportunity to learn their favourite dance styles and perform on stage. I’ll be on a lookout for potential dancers who will win an opportunity to perform with my dance company at an award show.
Audition for my full time and part time certification programs are in December and registrations for that have already started coming in. Three of my star Hip Hop dancers went to the Urban Dance Camp in Germany and trained with the biggest names. They’re now travelling the country teaching enthusiasts some amazing routines. My aim is always to keep dance relevant and spread the joy of dance!