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On the sets of 'So You Think You Can Dance'

Nakul Dev Mahajan, on why reality show ‘So You Think You Can Dance’, has lasted so long

Thanks to Nakul Dev Mahajan, the US got to know Bollywood dancing better. Introducing the style in the fourth season of Emmy award winning So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD), the choreographer also known as ‘Hollywood’s Favourite Bollywood Choreographer’, has come a long way. His Bollywood piece for Miss America Nina Davuluri during the pageant hunt, stole the show and may have helped her clinch the crown in September. According to Mahajan, completion of 10th season of SYTYCD (premiering on AXN on November 4)  is “a milestone. Not many series last for 10 seasons.”. It’s not surprising to find dancers specialising in ballet and contemporary rocking his classical Indian dance styles while fusing them with hip-hop, Latin and jazz. The reverse is true as well, maintains Mahajan, a trained Kathak dancer, observing the influence of hip hop and pop elements in Bollywood’s latest dances.

Group effort

Mahajan is up to date on the popular numbers in the Hindi film industry. That said, his Pandey Jee Seeti (from Dabangg 2), a group dance performance by top 12 contestants and Radha from Student of the Year by Malece and Jade was appreciated by SYTYCD judges, Nigel Lythgoe  and Mary Murphy. “Bollywood looks best as an ensemble style.With a group, you can experiment much more, and add multiple shapes and levels on stage,” he comments, adding that SYTYCD dancers need to be experienced in hip-hop, ballroom and contemporary dance forms. “Dancers need to pass the Vegas week auditions, which includes these elements. We are yet to see any Indian dancer as they may not be as experienced in these styles compared to others who are auditioning. But I do hope that day comes soon,” Mahajan says.

Dance like Madhuri

Being a big Madhuri Dixit fan, Mahajan confesses that his favourite Indian dance series is Jhalak Dikhlaa Ja. “Whenever I get time, I watch it and only for her,” he confesses, adding that Saroj Khan is another influence. “She changed the face of Bollywood in the late 80s by blending Indian classical with the Western dance form.” When can we expect to see his performance in India? “Once the right project comes along, I will be on my first flight to India,” he answers.

The 10th season of SYTYCD premieres on AXN, November 4 at 8 pm

—Madhuwanti Saha

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