Choreographer Career Information
What a Choreographer does
As a choreographer you'll create and organise dance sequences in cinema, music videos, stage shows, TV shows, drama, theatre, and even in private gatherings if somebody wants to foot the fat bills. You can even float your own ballet troupes to perform on stage.
Providing the basic training to the dance troupe will be your area of work. A typical dance troupe consists of 20-100 or more boys and girls. Some choreographers prefer to take on fresh dancers with no prior experience. The students are first taught the basic intricacies of Indian classical dance or western dance and then the contemporary dance styles. Thereafter, with hard work and practice as a Choreographer you can develop their own style of dancing.
Each choreographer has his/her own style. Your creativity as a Choreographer lies in your ability to mix various dance forms.
If as a Choreographer you opt to work in Bollywood, you'll work closely with the scriptwriter, producer, director and music director. Once the concept is fixed as a Choreographer you will then hold numerous rehearsals with your troupe to set the dance sequence. The rehearsals are often video recorded and later shown to the dancers to correct their mistakes.
Job Opportunities In choreography there are no jobs in the conventional sense of the word. Mostly you'll work on assignments on a contractual basis. So, in the beginning, you may get to work as an assistant to an established choreographer.
As a choreographer you can of course work on your own. Though it would take some time to establish your self in the market. In the meanwhile you can survive being a dance instructor in a dance school/training center.
Choreography, be it in films or music videos are fast catching on. Shiamak Davar won the Screen Videocon Award, the Lux Zee Cine and the prestigious National Award for his choreography in (Dil To Pagal Hai).
Opportunities for choreographers as a whole depend on the growth of the entertainment industry - mainly cinema, music and television.
The export potential of the Indian film industry and television industry is growing very fast. This means, we will see large investments in the industry. So in the passage of time there is going to be increased demand for choreographers and other professionals associated with the entertainment industry.
Abilities & Traits Required
This is one field where you won't be asked for your qualifications. If you can dance, you can be a Choreographer. However, knowledge of Indian classical dance or western classical and modern dance will help. As a choreographer you can create your own style of dance. Basically, you must have god communication skills and ability to lead a team. A cool head will help in dealing with a crowd of over 20.
"Knowledge of Indian classical dance or western classical and modern dance will help. As a choreographer you can create your own style of dance.
A professional training in any dance forms like Kathakali, Mohini Attam, Bharata Natyam, Kuchipudi, Odissi, Kathak, and Manipuri will take you at least 7 years. Good knowledge of Indian folk dances like Dumhal and Rouff of Kashmir, Hikat of Himachal Pradesh, the Jhumeila, the Chaunfla of Garhwal, Chholiya of Kumaon, Uttar Pradesh, Dalkhai of Orissa, Gendi of Madhya Pradesh, Bihu of Assam, etc. will also help you further your base.
Training in western dances like jazz, waltz, swing, tango and contemporary dances like disco, rap will also help."
Of course you don't get to be a Farah Khan or a Ganesh Hegde right at the start. As a Choreographer you have to build your way up, especially in the entertainment industry, which sees scores of new talent everyday.
As Choreographers in schools Start at Rs 18000 - 20000 per month In the film industry Start at Rs 15000 - 20000 per dance sequence
That's as far as the money aspect goes. But the fringe benefits in this field far outnumber the monetary aspect. First of all as a Choreographer you don't have to sweat it out at a gym to keep fit. Numerous dance rehearsals will do that for you. What's more, as a Choreographer you might even get entry into college. Sajid Khan got into Mithibai College not on the basis of his scores but on the basis of his dance competition certificates!
Once you hit it big time, you get to travel. That's the best part of the job - to be able to see the world at the producer's cost, get people to dance on top of glaciers, go up in an air balloon, make exotic stop-overs.
You'll never feel like its work that you are doing. How can you? When life is all about song and dance!
Interview with a Choreographer
Shiamak Davar, Choreographer
Did you always want 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.
Did you take any special training in acting? Yes of course. 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.
Then how did you go on to become a dancer? Actually 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.
So you came to India and started Shiamak Davar Academy for Performing Arts right away? No. I came here and 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.
You come from a family of educationists - the Davar's College of Commerce is 101 years old. How did your parents take to your dancing? My parents were very supportive. 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.
How difficult was it to introduce people in India to jazz dancing? 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.
Does it bother you when you see your style being copied by other choreographers? I am only happy 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.
Do you have any idols as dancers? 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.
What are the qualities of a good dancer? Desire, dedication, hunger and absolute pure love. Dance is a combination of Mind, Body and Spirit. I believe that we are spiritual bodies with a physical existence.
How important is it to join a professional dance course? Can someone learn by just watching? I can do it but only to a point. Even the most genius person can do it to a point. Every genius needs to learn. A genius is a gift from God. But to develop it is in your hands. Finding a very good teacher is very important. Or else you will never learn. If you are taught wrongly you have had it.
Can 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.
You are a name to reckon with in the field of Jazz dance. Where do you plan to go from here?
I will win a Grammy or an Oscar one day. I want to something for the dance scene in India. I want to be known internationally.
How was it working with Madhuri and Karishma? Oh, they were very very receptive. Yes, they did find the timing and the movements different. They were not used to something like this.
What is your message to someone who wants to be another Shiamak? 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.
- Nivedita Jayaram Pawar