Besides popularising an unusual dance form, Shakti Mohan has a world tour to talk about
t’s not often that someone who was told as a child that she may never walk unassisted (after an accident shattered her leg), grows up to become a dancer. But Shakti Mohan—you may know her as the 2010 winner of reality show Dance India Dance or, more recently, as one of the girls in the Rowdy Rathore song, Aa Re Pritam Pyaar—shrugs it aside. “The bigger challenge was giving up my goal of becoming an IAS officer and pursuing dance full time,” says the political science major who made the switch after choreographer Terence Lewis spotted her at a dance workshop and convinced her to accept a scholarship at his academy. “I decided to follow my heart and trained with him for four years—learning contemporary, jazz and the like—before the TV show happened,” adds the Mumbai girl who will be coming to the city on May 23 as part of her Nritya Shakti Tour—a series of master classes she is conducting all over the world.
An exponent of Indian contemporary, Mohan explains the tour is her way of giving back to fans. “It’s been five years since DID and I thought this would be a great way to interact with the people who’ve encouraged me,” says the 29-year-old. Her two-day workshop will include sessions on contemporary, Bollywood and waacking (a “dance form that originated in the clubs of Los Angeles”). “I will also teach one of my most popular DID choreographies, the one I performed for my final auditions and which got a standing ovation from the judges,” says Mohan, who has also trained at New York’s Broadway Dance Center and collaborated with an Arab-American composer in 2012 as part of BBC’s Collaboration Culture project.
Mohan feels that the standard of dancing in India has to pick up. While there is talent, there aren‘t too many opportunities. “In fact, many people don‘t know how to take that first step. Through these classes, I hope to show them how to enter this field, what the prospects are and how to make a career out of it,” explains the dancer who is looking forward to making her full-fledged début in Bollywood, in an as-yet-untitled film where dance will be the focus. Meanwhile, she will also update her repertory—take up tap dancing, Latin and ballroom—and finalise plans to start a residential dance school.
From Rs 850 onwards (for a single session). At KM Music Conservatory. Details: in.bookmyshow.com
—Surya Praphulla Kumar