With choreographers offering dance classes across cities, the opportunities to learn have certainly grown for youngsters. But is making a mark in the field really easy?
With conventional professions taking a backseat and youngsters exploring their creativity to turn it into their pay cheques, dance as a profession has come a long way. Change in mindsets, popularity of dance reality shows, internet bringing the world closer and rise in the number of dance institutes, a career in dancing is prospering. We speak to dancers and choreographers Shiamak Davar, Terence Lewis and Sumeet Nagdev who offer several dance programmes through their academies.
Have a plan
“Dance as a career has indeed evolved with time. In India, dance reality shows have majorly helped in transforming the old notion. It is giving youngsters a lucrative opening into the field of stage shows, choreography and most importantly, Bollywood,” says Terence Lewis, contemporary dancer, and dance director who is currently a judge on Star Plus’ Dance Champions. Terence’s dance academy called Terence Lewis Professional Training Institute (TLPTI), focusses on empowering dance professionals through various courses.
Giving us a peek into the modules at TLPTI, Terence says, “We created a model where dancers would learn certain basics and understand the fundamentals — how to hold oneself, different styles, versatility, etc. There is also an 18-month course for people who want to make a career in dance.” Dancers at TLPTI are also mentally prepared to handle a demanding industry. “Physically we make them very strong to deal with the pressure of repetitions. These things are well engraved in the course so it makes you ready for the world outside,” he adds.
Terence who believes that the internet has brought a huge revolution in the dance industry, says, “Students are much more aware. Earlier they thought that their teacher was the best but now they know that there is a world out there where people are doing much better. Most importantly, the good part is that the ethnic and cultural aspects are all getting merged.”
Terence never wants to encourage anyone to take up dance just because one is good at it. It is a really demanding profession — physically and mentally. “One shouldn’t enter the industry with a greed for money, fame, success and glamour. In such a tough industry, you’ll realise that by the time you reach there, you’ll be completely tired and emotionally distraught with the kind of things you’ve got to put up with,” says Terence. “You can become a choreographer, a teacher, an internet sensation — there are lots of opportunities out there. What’s important is that you need to have a plan, you need to train, get experience with great choreographers so you know how it functions. You need to learn under a teacher so you learn how to teach and disseminate information. So for every line of dancing, you’ll have to find a method to approach those areas,” he concludes.
With Shiamak Davar International India Pvt Ltd offering its One Year Dance Certification Programme (OYP), dance enthusiasts have another opportunity. The course helps potential dancers nurture their skills in a professional environment with over 10 dance styles. “Each year, students with potential are inducted into my dance company. The programme has modules in performing arts-related courses that open avenues in music/video editing, backstage, production, costumes and more. Graduates can teach dance as hobby classes, in schools, choreograph sangeets and shows or, be a part of musical productions. The opportunities are plenty,” Shiamak tells us.
A lot of young dance artists are confused between choosing a career as a performer and a choreographer. When is the right time to make a switch from a performing artist to choreographer? Shiamak answers, “The competition is fierce. Whether it is as a choreographer or a performer, one must know their strengths and limitations. A great dancer may not be a great choreographer and vice versa. It depends on your area of interest. Some like being on stage while others like watching their vision come alive through their choreography,” quips the Ullu Ka Pattha choreographer.
With a number of dance reality shows and dance institutes cropping up, awareness about dance has grown over the years. However, “quality does become an issue with so many institutes cropping up everywhere and I only feel scared at times when people without formal training will set up academies,” Shiamak expresses. “Dance enthusiasts must research well. But I am extremely glad that dance has grown so much over the years and people genuinely see it as a viable career option,” he says, adding, “With reality shows and the internet, people are now well versed with international trends in dance.”
Shiamak says that one needs to have a genuine passion in dance to make a career out of it. “Ensure that you get trained well before you venture into it. My parents ensured I got a degree before I took up dance full time which I feel is very important,” he concludes.