India's talent and professionalism in event management is phenomenal- Shiamak Davar

The eminent Dance Choreographer who introduced contemporary jazz and western forms of dance in India, Shiamak Davar, said that all kinds of events use dance as an ideal form of entertainment. “From weddings to corporate events, school annual days to Bollywood award shows, fundraisers to sporting events, dance fits in everywhere!” he said. While speaking to Everything Experiential, Davar opened up about his dance academy’s voyage, opportunities in this field, how his life took a turn after ‘Dil to pagal hai’ et cetera. Ahead, a look at what the guru of contemporary dance has to say.


How did your academy Shiamak Davar Institution of Performing Arts (SDIPA) start?

Belonging to a family of educationists, I always understood the importance of education. My parents ensured that I completed my graduation before I decided to pursue my passion. Even in my field of choice, I followed the path of education; dance education. When I started thirty years back, dance was not considered as a viable career. This is why I started a school that offered dance classes with complete knowledge and training.

I wanted to make people experience the same joy that I derived from dancing and performing. My motto is ‘Have Feet. Will Dance.’ which reiterated the fact that everyone can dance. I wanted to create a platform for people to come and express themselves through movement, without being judged. Whether they are four or eighty-four, everyone learns and performs on stage. The sense of achievement and fulfillment they get is greater than any other feeling. It’s been over thirty years and it’s great to see the impact it has had on people.

How important are venues for you?

I’ve worked at all types of venues, I think venues are a great source of inspiration. For me, the stage is like a second home. I love space, so whether it is an outdoor venue or a closed auditorium, I choreograph according to the space available. In fact, I’ve done shows that didn’t even had a stage for, but used properties to create an illusion of a stage.

How do you classify the Shiamak Davar dance form?

I feel my style of choreography is a fusion. There is a lot of Indo-contemporary and modern movements with a strong folk influence. Even when I choreograph for Bollywood, I add aspects of jazz technique or other styles as per what the music tells me. When I hear a song, it tells me a story and that is what I interpret as a movement. But because it is so me, every time people see my work, whether it is contemporary or Bollywood, they refer to it as Shiamak Style. So that is what it has been termed as now!

How did your life change after ‘Dil to pagal hai’?

Honestly, I wasn’t sure whether my style would fit the Bollywood set up. I felt it was too western but Gauri who used to dance with me along with Shah Rukh insisted that I choreograph it. Yash uncle gave me complete creative liberty and knowing that Madhuri and Karisma were in the film, I agreed. Little did I know I would win a National award for it and it would create a revolution of sorts. 

Bollywood dancing found a new structure. People saw technique, fit dancers and a very different kind of movement. Suddenly, the interest in my dance classes increased and the students started pouring in. My priority has always been my dance academy and furthering dance education. This film showcased technique to people and opened them to the idea of learning western dance as well. It built trust in people.

You deliver a highly energetic and coordinated form of live entertainment with little room for error. Tell us about a blooper that happened onstage.

There are times when the music goes off, or dancers may not get enough time to change from one costume to another or there is a technical glitch; but as a part of the training process, the Dance Company is equipped to handle such situations. In fact, at a prestigious award show, the music went off mid-performance while the actress was leading the dance, the dancers started singing the song and the performance continued. The audience literally stood up and clapped!

Which event partners do you most enjoy working with?

To be honest, the level of professionalism and talent in terms of event management in our country is phenomenal. For every scale, they manage events beautifully. So I’ve had a great time working with all of them.

How do you source your talent/ pro dancers in Shiamak troupe?

Each member of my dance company starts off as a regular student in my Hobby classes. So from the very beginning, they are trained at my academy. Then the interested ones audition for the full time professional One Year Dance Certification Program where I teach them as well. Members of my Dance Company are selected from this Program at their graduation every year.

What does it take to perform on stage?

There is a lot of work that goes into it. Selecting music, choreographing each piece, teaching it to the dance company, working on costumes, properties, sets; setting the lighting for each formation, endless rehearsals. There is a lot of back-end work and preparation that goes into putting up a seamless show on stage.

What are the opportunities in the field of dance?

The opportunities are endless - teaching dance classes to people of all age groups,  teaching in schools or corporates, performing in musicals, becoming a performer or choreographer in live shows and films, choreographing sangeets and weddings, taking personal training lessons, becoming a celebrity dance trainer or teaching at NGOs. Dance is now a viable career option, and the avenues are plenty!

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