Published: 27th April 2020
Shiamak Davar's five steps to learning and appreciating dance
Shiamak Davar needs no introduction and the fact that dance can uplift spirits needs no corroboration. Read on as the most popular artist in India speaks about dancing the lockdown away
When you move your furniture around to make room to dance, in a way, you are decluttering your mind, making space for a new hobby. "And this is important. When one is alone, it becomes more important to creatively express oneself. Not only will you sweat the toxins away and build your immunity, it'll help keep negativity, boredom, frustrations and bitterness away," says Shiamak Davar, choreographer, dancer and one of the most positive creative artist out there. Get ready to replace lockdown-induced negative emotions with something that is higher in nature — dance.
1. Do you really want to dance?
"You need to have a will, a passion for it. Otherwise, there is no use," says Shiamak. So what if you cannot be a professional dancer, he asks. You can still dance and have fun. "It's a gift," he asserts and adds, "Dance is just music made visible and is an extremely powerful form of expression"
2. Train all the way
Everyone needs a guide and when you find the right guide for dancing, the journey becomes smoother. "Online classes are a very powerful medium to find a teacher," says Shiamak. Though he also acknowledges the fact that there are many self-taught artists, even those from poor economic backgrounds, who excel at this art form. "I can guarantee that because I've seen it myself," he declares
3. Warm up, but carefully
Everyone, especially children and the elderly, need to be very careful with their bodies. "There is bad karma involved if you don't exercise carefully, you could damage the body. One needs to do their homework and work out in a scientific and technical way," he asserts more than once
4. Eenie meenie miney, Bollywood
"People relate to the music, to the hook steps, hence Bollywood is the easiest dance form to start with and perfect for beginners," says Shiamak, known for revolutionising dance in Bollywood, when we ask him which style one should start with. And if you want to develop an appreciation for the style he founded, Shiamak's Bollywood Jazz, just watch his work Le Gayi (from Dil To Pagal Hain) or Dhoom Again (Dhoom 2) on repeat!
5. If music be the food of life...
"Anything that moves a person, anything that lifts you up, anything that you love, just let it play," he almost commands when we ask him what kind of music would be ideal for starters. Dance is a healing process, he states, and we must make use of it to heal ourselves from the effects of the lockdown
Let's take it online
"I used to dream of taking free classes. I was always revolted by the fact that one has to pay for dance, it is like paying for water, it's ridiculous," he says, fuming. "And now that I have earned something, I have set out to fulfil my dream. I pay my instructors, of course, but my online classes are free," he says with a satisfied smile and adds that he doesn't blame those who charge to survive, but now that he can, he is willing to not charge and just teach
Shiamak during a performance | (Pic: Shiamak Davar)
If you’re happy and you know it, tap your feet
During the ongoing lockdown, Shiamak is busy caring for his 98-year-old mother, his loving yet naughty dogs and extensively working with his faculty in London, Dubai, Canada and more as to how they can improve classes and the experience for each and every one. "If you do it genuinely, dance can help you in so many ways," says the guru of contemporary dance in India. Mentally, emotionally, spiritually — it can heal you in many ways. And don't even get started about having two left feet. "My very motto is 'Have Feet, Will Dance'," he laughs as he shares. As per the Founder of Shiamak Davar's Institute Of Performing Arts, if you let dance take over, it can do a lot for you.
"Today, dance is being used as therapy for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and so much more. It has the power to lift your thoughts, to save and heal you." Through his own initiative, Shiamak Victory Arts Foundation, he cuts across all kinds of caste, class, ability barriers and teaches dance to literally each and every one. And the thrill and happiness of performing on stage in costumes with friends while being watched by several people is unmatched. Truly, if you let it, dance can heal you, just like Shiamak says.
Shiamak's all-time inspirational favourite dancers
- Martha Graham: This American modern dancer's style reshaped American dance and is known as the Graham technique
- Gene Kelly: This American-Irish dancer is known for his energy and athleticism. He is also an actor
- Pandit Birju Maharaj: "We are fans of each other. Whenever he meets me, he tells me how much he likes my work and I say the same thing," he says
Shiamak Davar | (Pic: Shiamak Davar)
Movies to watch
Shiamak says that any movies of the following actors will lead you to the dancing path:
- Shammi Kapoor: His energetic and bouncy dancing style is most often compared with that of Elvis Presley
- Helen: Know for her dance moves and popular numbers in Bollywood, "There is no one like her," says Shiamak
- Old musicals: The charm and dance of those old-school musicals are timeless and Shiamak has a special affinity towards them
That one book, that one movie
- Yeh Ballet - Shiamak is the overall choreographer for Yeh Ballet which is streaming on Netflix
- The Laws of the Spirit World: Written by Khorshed Bhavnagri, this is one book that means a lot to Shiamak