Petite contemporary dancer Shakti Mohan first caught public attention with her fine, poised performances in the second season of Zee TV show Dance India Dance, which she went on to win. An alumnus of choreographer Terence Lewis’s academy, Mohan subsequently struck a chord with the tweens as the feisty collegian Kria on Channel V show Dil Dosti Dance. Mohan was quick to see the show’s many problems – it was less about dancing and more about bickering – and left to pursue her real goal: to become a standout professional dancer.
This fortnight, the 26-year old dancer who is trained in bharatanatyam will venture onto the small screen again, this time for a new and more challenging project. Mohan will work alongside Mohammed Fairouz, an Arab- American classical composer in New York, as part of Collaboration Culture, a BBC World News series which sees two professionals from different cultural fields come together for a creative endeavour. In an email interview, Mohan shared her experience in the Big Apple.
What was the experience working with Mohammed Fairouz like? Were you familiar with his work prior to the show?
Mohammed is an amazing guy. We still hang out in New York after the collaboration ended. He is very talented and hardworking. I was not aware of his work earlier, but I have become a big fan of his compositions.
Has the stint in New York helped you evolve?
It was my dream to come to New York and to have an opportunity to perform here was unbelievable. I have never performed to live music and it was very challenging. It definitely helped to get exposed to a lot of people from all over the world. Any memorable moments while in New York. I remember when I heard Mohammed’s composition live for the first time I had tears in my eyes. It was beautiful and I still have the music running in the back of my head sometimes.
When did you catch the dancing bug?
My elder sister, Beena Mohan, is an inspiration. She used to dance a lot on Bollywood numbers and watching her, I got the dancing bug. Favourite place to dance in Mumbai. My rehearsal studio. I converted one of my rooms into a rehearsal space which works beautifully for me. I can dance all day without having to go out in the sun or face the traffic.
What sort of preparation do you do before a show?
I become extremely quiet to calm myself and I warm up for an hour. I feel it’s important to shut everything and only concentrate on yourself at that moment.
Tumble and splits.
I love Madhuri Dixit because she is so beautiful to watch. When I watch her, I get goosebumps. I like the dancers from So You Think You Can Dance (US series). They are passionate and technical and that’s what I love about them.
What’s the best advice you have been given?
When I was on the verge of choosing Indian Administrative Service as a profession, Terence sir said, “You should do what you love doing because you are very hardworking and driven. No matter what you choose, you will excel in it so might as well do what you love.” It was the best advice I got from someone who I look up to.
If you weren’t a dancer, what would you do?
I would be an IAS officer.
By Suhani Singh on July 20 2012 7.06am