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 Shiamak- Bombay Times (IDD) International Dance Day!Shiamak- Sakaal Times Pune (IDD)International Dance Day!

Dance of Madness
By Daily Post
    • India
  • 4/29/2013 1:03:38 PM


Sarika Sharma
Choreographer Shiamak Davar says that even though people loved Dil Toh Pagal Hai, looks back and feels there is so much more he could have done
Shiamak Davar is a keen observer. A sharp learner. How else does one of India’s top choreographers grow?
“I find myself learning every day, getting inspired by everything around me and interpreting that into dance movements,” says Shiamak, who shot to fame for his choreography of Dil Toh Pagal Hai. The film won him a National Award. Each film, henceforth, has been his journey. Every move has helped him inch towards perfection…
Twenty years… He’s seen Bollywood change. “Choreography has become more stylised and glamorous,” he says.
He has seen himself grow. “Dance, as an art, keeps evolving, and as a choreographer one must keep evolving as well. One thing that has remained constant in my work is originality. Each piece I choreograph represents me. So, over the years, I have matured and so has my choreography. Even though people loved Dil Toh Pagal Hai and found my work much ahead of its times, I look back and think there is so much more I could have done!”
And you can only criticise yourself when you are truly growing. Shiamak’s I’m-my-worst-critic stance makes him what he is. 
Davar’s repertoire includes dance-based films such Taal, Rab Ne Bana Do Jodi and Kisna. It also includes choreographing Dhoom Again (Dhoom 2) that was awarded the ‘Most stylish song in a film’ at the MTV Style Awards 2007 and an opulent party scene for Tom Cruise-Paula Patton starrer Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol. 
We ask him if dance moves are more contemporary these days, and also, less forced into films. He agrees. He agrees that there has always been a western influence. That dance sequences are integrated better into the storyline. But… he pauses. “The way the video is shot now is more of an edit job than a choreographer’s work. There is no continuity in movement like there used to be. Now every look, every step later, there is a cut. So even though the end product is great, as a choreographer, I feel it doesn’t do justice.”
The conversation deviates… from Bollywood and Shiamak to Psy and Gangnam Style. We want to know what Shiamak feels about his dance… “People like anything that makes them smile. Gangnam Style is catchy and people love the absurdity, it is fun! Who doesn’t like fun? The signature step is simple and everyone can do it. And what is important is it is original. That’s why people like it!”
And the host of dance reality shows? Are they not more about the act and props and less about dance? Shiamak says the props and sets should be there only to accentuate the dance, not a way to cover up the lack of choreography. Also, he doesn’t feel that the dance-based reality shows here as any sort of benchmark.
“Most of them are copies and lack originality,” he shrugs. He says they might be a great platform to be recognised as it gives an opportunity to dance enthusiasts from interiors of the country to show their skills on screen. But, once the 15 minutes of fame are over, then what?” he asks
Shiamak says there is lack of technique, no training and no guidance once the show is over. It is important to encourage dance as a disciplinary form, right from the school level, he says. 
“Kids are more receptive to the process of learning in their formative years; so, the earlier dance education begins for them, the better,” says he who has a programme called Shiamak Dance Education running in many schools across the country.
Shiamak has trained the likes of Bollywood actors Shahid Kapoor, Varun Dhawan, Vidya Balan, Ruslan Mumtaz and actor Shah Rukh Khan’s wife Gauri. Ask him who is his favourite, and it’s undoubtedly Madhuri Dixit, whom he trained in Dil Toh Pagal hai. “Of course, there is Aishwarya who I’ve seen from her Miss India days. I love Deepika, such a talent and a pleasure to choreograph,” he smiles. 

Published by on April 19, 2013 | 0 Comment

When Shiamak and Premier Christy Clark Danced for Good!

During Shiamak Davar’s recent visit to Vancouver, he joined hands with British Columbia Premier Christy Clark to Dance For Good. Together, they paid a visit to the Canuck Place with his dance company to entertain residents at the children’s hospice.

‘Dance for me has the power to heal. Through my not for profit organization, Victory Arts Foundation we’ve been reaching out to thousands of people with special needs and healing through dance.

Premier Christy Clark has such high regard for all cultures and we connected immediately when she visited my dance studio in Mumbai last year. It is such an honour to have her support for our Dance For Good program’, says Shiamak.

The program urges individuals or groups to DANCE for a GOOD cause. It aims at sharing the joy of dance to heal, empowering performers with an opportunity to make a change, bringing a smile of people’s faces and giving them hope, giving an opportunity to people to take up a cause they support and give it visibility through dance, encouraging team spirit, improving the community, reaching out to various locations and supporting multiple causes, bringing communities together through dance and the performing arts, creating awareness and making each individual a ‘dance hero’.

‘I was here with my friend Shiamak who runs one of the best dance schools in the world. They were here to entertain the kids. These guys are all about ‘live for the moment’ and it was wonderful how they got the kids dancing. The great thing about it is the inter cultural connection that they make. Sometimes these kids experience a lot of sadness in their lives and Shiamak was here bringing them some joy through dance.’ said Premier Clark.

The Shiamak Davar Dance Company performed to Shabop, a song sung by Shiamak that stands for ‘dance without worry and celebrate life’ and that is just what these kids did. This initiative that aims at using dance to connect cultures and strengthen the community is a great way for people to come forward and share the joy of dance with the community.


  • April 25, 2013, 11:54 AM

Q&A: The King of Bollywood Dance

By Daniel Ashwin Pillai
Yakub Merchant
Shiamak Davar

Shiamak Davar made his debut as a choreographer in 1997 in the Yash Chopra directed blockbuster “Dil to Pagal Hai,” for which he won a National Film Award for Best Choreography.

Since then, Mr. Davar has choreographed several chart-topping songs in Bollywood films such as “Taal,” “Dhoom 2” and “Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi,” as well as an act in Hollywood’s “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.”

Mr. Davar is also well known for his stage choreography, including for the traveling musical dance show “The Unforgettable Tour” in 2008 and the theatrical Bollywood musical “Zangoora – The Gypsy Prince” in 2010. For the past 14 years, he has also been entertainment designer and choreographer for The International Indian Film Academy Awards show.

India Real Time caught up with the choreographer to talk about dance, his inspirations, the impact of technology and the spiritual side of life. Edited excerpts:  

The Wall Street Journal: How did dance become such an integral part of your life?  

Shiamak Davar: Since my childhood, I have always had a keen interest in the performing arts. I would often hold a coke bottle as a microphone and perform for my family and friends; I was a legend in my living room! Whether it was singing, dancing or acting, I knew that I belonged on stage. Later, I took up master classes in dance outside of India and through the guidance of a few of my spiritual leaders I realized that my mission was to spread the joy of dance.

WSJ: What is it about dance that inspires you?

Mr. Davar: The performing arts is the reason for my existence, I seek inspiration in everything it offers. A four-year-old who starts his journey in my dance classes; an 84-year-old who relives their younger days on stage; the chaos when touring on the road; the silence in a room after a performance: these are all parts of dance and together create magic on and off stage. Dance is movement and everything that moves inspires me.

WSJ: You made your debut as a choreographer in ‘Dil to Pagal Hai’ in 1997. Today you are choreographing for Bollywood films and the theater. How did this journey begin? 

Mr. Davar: Dance, especially the Western form, was completely unheard of in India at the time. I faced a lot of rejection and humiliation based on traditional stereotypes and mindsets as people didn’t accept men as dancers and thought girls who danced would never get married.  

Even when Shah Rukh Khan spoke to me about ‘Dil to Pagal Hai,’ I was very apprehensive as I thought my style was very Western for Bollywood. But on the insistence of Yash Chopra and Mr. Khan and his wife Gauri I went ahead. Little did I know that this film would create a revolution of sorts in Bollywood and change the face of dance in Bollywood cinema. It was definitely an important time for me personally and professionally.  

WSJ: What do you want to communicate through your choreography?  

Getty Images
Shiamak Davar performed at an event in Mumbai, March 21.

Mr. Davar: Originality. Each one of us is unique and this must be represented in our work. I am me, there is a certain way I choreograph and this comes out through each piece that I create. Probably it is because of this reason that people started recognizing my work and my style, which has now been termed ‘The Shiamak Style.’ For me, the performer is a ‘peaceful warrior’ with a strong interior and a fluid exterior. Every time I choreograph, there is a certain story that the music tells me, this is what I try to portray through the choreography. Dance is music made visible. 

WSJ: What is it about your style of dancing that you think is unique… and why do you think that ‘The Shiamak Effect’ is felt so strongly across the world

Mr. Davar: My work usually involves a lot of fusion, and this comes naturally to me. I guess universally people see and understand my work as an amalgamation of different styles and cultures, they become drawn to it. I keep the roots of our rich Indian culture in my work but add the modern touch to it, as India is now very different from what it was 100 years back.

From the time I started choreographing, people recognized my work as being very different; something they hadn’t seen before. The movement is very Indo-contemporary and modern; it involves technique and the grandeur of sets and costumes to add to the stage performance and the fluidity of the dance moves. My style is to bring the worlds of the East and West together.

WSJ: We are celebrating 100 years of Indian cinema, how do you think dance has changed throughout this time? 

Mr. Davar: From mujras to item songs, dance in Bollywood is ever evolving and it has crossed the border and has gained massive global appeal. From a choreographer’s perspective, the black and white era had its own charm in the ways songs were done. Even the ’70s and ’80s have left a great impression on choreographers, dancers, directors and actors.  

Other than the evolution of dance itself, technology is the big change. For film, choreography is more of an editor’s job than a choreographer’s. There is no continuity in movement in films because each shot and movement is cut into various parts. So you really can’t see how good the choreography is in today’s cinema; the songs look nice because of good editing. 

WSJ: You share quite a rooted relationship with Vancouver. What is it about Canada and Canadian culture that is so alluring? 

Mr. Davar: Vancouver is a true example of what a multicultural city should be and I love the way everyone adapts to the city and shares their culture. I am humbled at the way the people of Vancouver have accepted me. 

Vancouver is my second home. I have been living there for 10 years now; there is a sense of belonging. They call it “Beautiful British Columbia” for a reason. What makes it even more beautiful is the warmth of the people. I visit Vancouver a couple of times every year and train my dance company there as well. Some of my best works in choreography have been set in Vancouver and I do a lot of my spiritual work there too. 

WSJ: How has this spiritual side of your personality shaped your international career? 

Mr. Davar: It’s this spiritual side to my personality that has formed the basis of everything I have done and it’s the reason why dance exists in my life. My spiritual guide, Khorshed Bhavnagiri and her book “The Laws of the Spirit World” changed my life completely. The story of the messages she received from her deceased sons made me realize the reason of our existence, the cycle of birth and rebirth, and the importance of karma, test and training.  

Dance for me is a means to heal and to spread joy. After reading Ms.Bhavnagiri’s book I realized that dance was my gift and through it, I could reach out to people and help them.

Dancing it Out!


 For- Vancouver Sun

Expect high-energy at musical extravaganza, says Bollywood choreographer

By Deborah Meyers, Special to The Sun April 2, 2013

  ‘Dance guru’ Davar Shiamak cranks up the voltage at the Times of India Film Awards

New Bollywood marries classical styles like Bharata Natyam and Kathak, or folk dances like Bhangra with western genres like contemporary, jazz and hip hop.

When the lights go down and the music starts at the inaugural Times of India Film Awards in Vancouver on Saturday, the place will be crammed with Bollywood celebrities. But don’t expect the proceedings to begin with a monologue. This may be the Academy Awards of Bollywood cinema, but the film industry it celebrates is all about song, and especially dance. Both the awards ceremony, and the musical extravaganza that precedes it tonight, will be defined by large-scale production numbers devised by Shiamak Davar, an A-list Bollywood choreographer who divides his time between Mumbai and Vancouver.

“TOIFA is an extension of the cultural exchange that has been taking place between Canada and India for years now,” says Davar, reached in Mumbai where he is putting the finishing touches on elaborate dance acts that will erupt on both stages. Participating B.C. dancers — many of them members of the Shiamak Davar Dance Team, the professional wing of his North Vancouver dance school affiliated with a string of international Shiamak style dance schools, including centres in Victoria and Toronto — are concurrently in rehearsal in Vancouver.

Davar, who serves as both director of choreography and design for the Vancouver events (and will perform himself in a single number on each evening), is widely credited with re-positioning Bollywood dance for an international market.

“When I started off 20 years ago,” he said, “Bollywood dance did not have a structure. The first movie I choreographed went on to win a national award, and introduced jazz technique to Bollywood. It was a first for Indian cinema to have properly choreographed pieces with dancers who were trained and had fit bodies. This movie — Dil Toh Pagal Hai — is considering a turning point for dance in Bollywood movies.”

A marker of his success is the fact that the term Bollywood now refers to a dance style, as well as to the Hindi-language film industry based in Mumbai. One of the largest centres of film production in the world, Indian popular cinema has multiple roots in the culture: ancient epics and Sanskrit dramas, traditional folk theatre, and especially Parsi theatre, with its melodramatic plot lines and use of elaborate stagecraft to conjure a unique brew of realism and fantasy. Hollywood musicals and Western musical television, especially MTV, with its focus on pace, camera angles and octane-fuelled dance sequences, have also shaped the form.

The influence goes both ways. Australian director Baz Luhrman (son of a ballroom dance teacher) has said that his 2001 film Moulin Rouge was directly inspired by Bollywood musicals. That film led to a revival of the Western musical film genre with movies like Chicago, Dream Girls and Mamma Mia!

If old Bollywood dance was modelled on classical styles like Bharata Natyam and Kathak, or folk dances like Bhangra, the new Bollywood marries those older forms with western genres like contemporary, jazz and hip hop. The structure is usually a hero or heroine with a troupe of backup dancers, supported by frequently shifting staging and costumes that are almost baroque in their embellishments.

The old and the new meet in defining themes: star-crossed lovers, dramatic reversals of fortune, kind-hearted courtesans. Florid to some, timeless to others, it depends how you look at it. “It’s about interpreting the emotion of a particular scene through dance movements,” says Davar.

The choreographer, known as a “dance guru” in India for his work on television reality shows like Dance Ke Superstars (Superstars of Dance), Jhala Dikhla Ja (Dancing with the Stars), Dance Premier League and India’s Got Talent, is no stranger to large-scale undertakings. He has directed, designed and performed at events like the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games (Melbourne 2006 and Delhi 2010) and The World Economic Forum Davos (2006), and was the designer and choreographer for the Indian International Film Academy Awards for ten consecutive years (2002 to 2011.)

But the first Times of India Film Awards is special to him, uniting two cities to which he has deep connections.

“It’s like inviting my friends and family from India to beautiful Vancouver”, he says. What do Western audiences need to know to understand Bollywood dance? Not a thing, according to Davar. “Just feel the music and dance,” he says. “The audience will be in for a lot of high energy and high voltage performances.”

The Vancouver Sun

By Larissa Cahute, Postmedia News April 5, 2013
// Times of India Film Awards get Bollywood-style kick-off in Vancouver

Shiamak Davar (centre) is pictured at the Times of India Film Awards Musical Extravaganza opener at the Pacific Coliseum on April 4.

Photograph by: Aziz Dhamani , Special to The Sun

The extravagant Bollywood lifestyle has officially taken over Vancouver.

Amidst the bright lights, vibrant colours – and even fire – was, of course, the Hindi film industry’s trademark song and dance from their top performers and singers, who all came together for the Times of India Film Awards’ impressive kick-off event.

Thursday night’s Musical Extravaganza at the Pacific Coliseum erupted with intense and deafening cheers from the crowd as Indian actress Neha Dhupia, known for roles in the 2004 Bollywood film Julie and 2008 Singh is Kinng, first took the stage.

The glamorous Dhupia, host of the premier event, officially welcomed Bollywood fans from across the globe to the first-ever TOIFA.

“Welcome to the most happening musical extravaganza of the year,” she shouted to the crowd, encouraging them to “burn the dance floor.”

The actress and 2002 Femina Miss India embodied the perfect image for Vancouver’s dive into Bollywood culture: dressed head to toe in a sleek, black salwar kameez with glittering gold trim and jewellry.

But Dhupia didn’t waste much time as she quickly introduced the evening’s first performer – or “guru,” as she excitedly put it.

“The choreographer who can sweep you off your feet with his voice,” she said, introducing world-renowned choreographer Shiamak Davar.

There was nothing more fitting to set the tone than Davar’s exuberant personality and signature Bollywood style – which has transcended borders, spawning dance studios in Vancouver, Toronto and right across the world.

But Thursday night wasn’t just a song and dance performance for Davar – he’s been devoting countless hours to the inaugural TOIFA weekend directing both the Musical Extravaganza and the grand awards ceremony Saturday night.

But he went back to basics at the Pacific Coliseum, starting out with a slow and solemn one man show with his song Jaane Kisne.

Usually surrounded by a throng of dancers, the spotlight was just on Davar in a trim black suit.

But he was soon joined by two scantilly clad dancers who performed alongside the seductive beat, Davar almost serenading them.

Naturally his second number picked up the pace and he was joined by his throng of colourfully dressed dancers for some upbeat songs and friendly crowd banter.

“I know I’m not Shahrukh Khan,” he joked, adding that he’s still “sexy.”

Next to take the stage was Shalmali Kholgade, playback singer from Mumbai who won this year’s Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback Singer for her song Pareshaan from the 2012 movie Ishaqzaade starring Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra.

So of course she opened with the award-winning number, surrounded by a sea of dancers swaying to the mystical start of the song.

But the temperature quickly rose as the beat picked up and the dancers began to move – the bursting flames may have also helped bring the heat.

The night’s third performer touted some hometown pride with Canadian born singer – from Ottawa, but raised in Paris – Abbas Hasan.

Hasan’s short and sweet performance switched up the Bollywood vibe as his one man show delivered some westernized hip-hop with his latest single Away right into his debut single Sona.

The concert then took a complete turn as Dhupia introduced “the party queen” -British Indian rapper and hip-hop artist Hard Kaur.

Surrounded by a clan of dancers, Hard Kaur offered an abrupt twist with her intense and harsh beats – like her latest single Peeney Do, boasting offbeat lyrics of “I need a drink” and “if I get out of control it’s not me it’s the alcohol.”

But after her few songs of rugged dance and hip-hop, it was a 360 right back to the Bollywood romantic ballads, with – as Dhupia put it – “the prince of romance,” Mohit Chauhan.

The two time Filmfare Award winner for Best Male Playback Singer brought the crowd back to a calm state with his acoustic set, opening with old favourite, Dooba Dooba, which shot him to fame in his since dissolved band Silk Route.

Even with his laid back acoustic vibe, he managed to joke with and get the crowd to sing along with him.

And the atmosphere continued as Dhupia introduced “the queen of good times,” Kavita Seth.

“Her music is going to touch your soul,” said Dhupia.

And the Filmfare Award winning singer’s voice alone did so, as she opened with an a capella number, her vocals dominating the entire stadium, before she went into her infamous song Ik Tara.

While most performers had brief stints on stage, they all managed to get in their appreciation for the grand event and how pleased they are to be right here in Vancouver.

And Dhupia of course continued to maintain the crowds’ excitement for Saturday’s grand awards ceremony which will bring the extravagant weekend-long event to a close – but undoubtedly with a bang.