Shake a leg!

Amrita Prasad
Sunday, 4 February 2018

Wedding choreography is a big part of Indian weddings nowadays. We talk to choreographers to know what are the popular songs and the new concepts that are emerging

Today’s bride is eager to dance at her own wedding and no longer shy to shake a leg with her beau and other family members. And when dancing to, say, Ghoomar or Swag Se Swagat, they can’t do lousy steps. They need to have the right moves and, more importantly, get the swag right. Who comes to their help? But of course, the wedding choreographer. We talk to a few of them to know how more and more couples are enjoying this part of their wedding ritual.  

IT’S FOR EVERYONE 
City-based dance studio Studio FM in Baner has recently introduced a new concept where classes are held at night for those who can’t find time during the day to prepare for the dance at the sangeet or the wedding. “Along with our regular dance batches, we have started a special class, which is conducted between 11 pm and 3 am, for couples and families who are tied up with work throughout the day or find it difficult to squeeze out time for rehearsals or practice. So once they wrap up their day’s work, they can participate in this class ” says Vishakha Gaikwad, owner and creative director at Studio FM. 

Right from a five-year-old to the oldest member of the family, Studio FM designs choreography for all age groups. For weddings, the family gives the choreographer songs that they like and s/he takes the concept to a level higher with their idea and creativity. 

“Depending on the requirement of the client, we design the entire set up for them — stage, costume, etc,” says Gaikwad adding, “If it is a big fat wedding where the entire family is performing, it takes around three months to choreograph and put together the show. In case of a small wedding where only the couple performs, it takes around 5-7 days for us to design the choreography. If it is a journey of three months, then the concept is developed on the basis of the couple’s story — whether it’s a love marriage or an arranged marriage.”  

Apart from wedding choreography, Studio FM also offers make-up service. “Practising with us for several days, usually a trust is built between us and the couple and their families. So they happily bank on us for their big and small requirements,” adds Gaikwad. 

Manager and choreographer at the studio, Rakesh J points out that they invest time in understanding the couple’s relationship and create a script around which the dance is choreographed. “While designing the choreography around the mama-mami or chacha-chachi, we try to reflect the little nok-jhok or the romantic side and the journey of the couple. There have been instances where a groom has requested us to include elements of surprise in the dance or help him express feelings of love, apology, etc through the song and choreography,” says Rakesh who believes that a perfect wedding choreography has to have elements of drama, romance and entertainment. 

The charges for Studio FM begins from Rs 30,000 for a basic concept of wedding choreography.

NOT JUST THUMKAS 
Talking about the popularity of wedding choreography in recent times, Madhuraa Joshi choreographer and owner at MJ Dance Academy Pune, says that previously very few families or communities were open to the concept of wedding choreography. Joshi who has been doing wedding choreography since 2013, says, “In the northern part of the country, families have a separate programme for sangeet.

However, now Puneites are also eager to have sangeet. Sangeet and dance programmes have become a reason for everyone to get involved and dance, and it also helps break the ice between in-laws.”

While Bollywood is a huge hit at weddings, other dance styles likes Bollyhop, waltz and rock ‘n’ roll work in sangeet too. “Majorly, songs like Ambarsariya, Gallan Goodiyaan, London Thumakda , Nachde Ne Saare are in huge demand. However, retro songs like Aaj Kal Tere Mere Pyaar Ke, Aye Meri Zohra Jabeen, Ude Jab Jab Zulfen and so on are popular too,” says Joshi.

She says that the theme differs depending on the preference of a given community. “Community plays a major part as a few want to stick to traditional songs, but there are others who don’t mind including English songs and the latest tracks as well,” says Joshi adding, “We plan everything well. From the song selection to the props and sets involved in the choreography and the time given for practice is well distributed and managed to focus both on the couple, and the family and friends. Giving each and everyone personal attention and just letting them have fun on stage is the key to a successful sangeet,” she shares adding that the most important thing is to show the couple’s chemistry on stage. 

The fee for MJ Dance Academy starts at Rs 20,000 for basic choreography and goes higher depending on the requirements of time, travelling involved, props, sets, show ideas and designing, songs, and number of performances, participants and sessions.

MERGING DANCE WITH TECHNOLOGY
Akash Shah, choreographer and owner-founder of Zeus Entertainment — a city-based entertainment company that is currently doing wedding choreography across India, specialises in conceptualising and designing wedding sangeet. “For a choreographer or a dance instructor, it is important to judge the potential of the family members and also understand the sensitivity of these emotions,” says Shah adding that the environment has become more competitive now. “Along with families wanting to hire the best choreographers, it is also challenging for dance instructors to keep up with new content, ideas and concepts. One needs to be updated and well planned for ideating a sangeet,” he adds. 

“Thanks to YouTube and social media videos and songs going viral, people are experimenting a lot these days. Bollywood will always be a hit at weddings but nowadays Indian folk numbers are also getting a lot of limelight. This year, we introduced lot of bhangra, ghoomar and lavni, along with hip-hop and club moves. So songs like Pinga, London Thumakda, Ghani Bawri and Ghoomar have been the popular choice for wedding choreography,” says Shah adding that mashups and covers are also in vogue now.

“Mashup ideas are taken to a whole new level in the editing room with people wanting to do a Bom Diggy mixed with songs like Swala La La, Swag Se Swagat, Chamma Chamma, Cheap Thrills and Kuk Kuk Kuk,” says Shah adding that he and his team starts preparing for the wedding season months in advance. They do a lot of research when it comes to song selection and editing videos — it is like running a mini production house that will work to bring a movie-like-feel live on stage.

“One has to understand that every community can have their own preferences about song selection, but nowadays they have less hang-ups. We have  made Punjabis do Ghoomar and Marwaris shake a leg to Saddi Galli. Dance and music unify people and bring them closer. When you play a Daler Mehndi number, even a 90-year-old nani or dadi wants to nod or shake a leg and that is the power of dance,” explains Shah adding that Swag Se Swagat is a huge fad these days.

The choreography has to be done in a way that the focus is of course on the couple, however, others too must get a chance to showcase their dance skills.  “Of course the focus will be on the couple but family members also play a vital role in sangeet, which is incomplete if buas, chachas, chachis, nanis, mamas, mamis don’t perform or enjoy,” he says.

Talking about emerging ideas, he says, “This year, some really fun concepts like video projection, studio recording, wedding films and sangeet films were being incorporated. Animation is also the next big thing. We worked with this one particular bride who got us to write and compose a brand new song that has been registered as Inayat in her own voice with live musicians, top class editing, and dancers and props which was a dedication to her would-be husband.” 

Depending on the requirement and procurements that need to be done for clients, Zeus Entertainment charges Rs 1.5 to 5 lakh for wedding choreography.

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