Shiamak Davar, Choreographer – I never wanted to dance!

No, I never wanted to dance in my life. I only wanted to be an actor who could sing his own songs.

I never thought I would be a dancer till the age of 20-25. I was always involved in singing. I would enact scenes from movies when I was young. As a child I would sing and play the piano. My focus was never dancing but singing and dancing at the same time. Acting was the most important thing for me. I desperately wanted to be an actor.

I took special training in acting . I went to Guildford School Of Acting and Dance. When I asked my teacher how "do you rate me in all"and he said I was first an excellent singer and then a dancer. That's what I am. But people don't know that because they have always seen me as a dancer and choreographer. And you can't blame the public. But I know that I am a much better actor and singer than a dancer. And I am not talking about Hindi pop songs but ballad and English love songs. That's my forte. But then came my dancing classes and shows wherein people just saw my dancing. Luckily, Mohabbat Kar le and Jaane Kisne happened and people got to know that I could sing as well. But my major love has always been acting and singing.

Dancing happened by chance. I was doing a voice workshop in London and some dance classes were happening at the same venue. I just enrolled for the heck of it. Before I realised I was enjoying it. And my teacher thought I was good and he coaxed me to learn more. So I did some advanced course called Master Classes.

The Shiamak Davar Academy for Performing Arts started with seven students out of which five were my family and two were my friends. I went from strength to strength. Today I have classes for 4 to 64-year olds.

My parents were very supportive. I come from a family of educationists - the Davar's College of Commerce is 101 years old. Not once did they grumble. I have been a very tough child - horrible at studies and famous for playing pranks. It was not because I was dumb but because I was just not interested. I'd rather go and play the piano or play athletic games or do gymnastics.

Dance was never recognised in India, especially Jazz dance. People thought I was crazy to do something like this in India. They laughed at me. Said I would never make it. Moreover, everyone thought Jazz dance was very feminine and why would a boy do it? They thought I should be doing Indian dance. And that used to really put me off. It's not that I don't want to do Indian dance. In fact I love Indian dance and I have incorporated all the movements in le gayee le gayee. It is just that sometimes it's fun doing other things. My Parsi upbringing makes learning and adapting to western dancing very easy.

It took 15 years to bring up SDIPA (Shiamak Davar's Institute of Performing Arts). Today every where I go - airport, mall or even to the garage people come up to me and tell me that their son or daughter had been in my class. It feels wonderful. But I have gone through a lot of struggle to reach where I am today. I worked really very hard on my feet, with my faith in God and my patience.

I am happy if my style is copied by other choreographers as it compliments my work. What is wrong however, is that people who are barely six months in training call themselves choreographers. They use my name and start their own classes. They are imparting half-baked knowledge, which can be dangerous. Things like stretching your back, putting your back down or stretching your neck is done very technically and correctly by our instructors.

And when these so-called choreographers put up a show they copy everything from the sets, costumes, right down to the props. They don't even change the order. I am not bitter but I am sad. I take so long to conceptualise, work and develop and there are people who will reproduce it in seconds.

I am crazy about Govinda. I also like Madhuri Dixit, Menakshi Sheshadri, Kamal Hasan and Helen. I even like the Indian classical dancers like Chandralekha.

Desire, dedication, hunger and absolute pure love are the qualities of a good dancer.
Dance is a combination of Mind, Body and Spirit. I believe that we are spiritual bodies with a physical existence.

Dance be a full time career option. Dancing is now becoming a profession because I am giving jobs to people. But it is not that easy. You should never give up your studies for the sake of dance. You'll be stupid to do that. If you make it in the field of dance then you can give up studying. But till that time you should pursue your career, which will hold you in good stead till you become a dancer. You must have another option.

My ambition is to win a Grammy or an Oscar one day. I want to do something for the dance scene in India. I want to be known internationally.

If you want to become another Shiamak, you first have to become yourself. Even I wanted to be other people when I was growing up. And that's not a very wise thing to grow up on. You have to believe in yourself. Of course you can learn from others. Remember, if you don't go within yourself you will go without it.