Photos credit: Annie Koshy and Carroll V Chiramell from Orange Spot Productions
BY STAFF REPORTER
Dance Diaries with Shampa Gopikrishna – a two-day intensive workshop with Bollywood’s newest talk-of-the-town choreographer concluded with aplomb culminating in a Grand Finale performance in Mississauga. The troupe danced to some popular Bollywood numbers including Tamma Tamma Again and the Title Track from Badrinath Ki Dulhaniya among other favourites. The choreographer also performed exclusively with the founder of Sanskriti Arts, Puja Amin, on Pinga from Bajirao Mastani.
The Grand Finale, which took place at the Maja Prentice Theatre in Mississauga, showcased the dance skills and techniques of Bollywood dancing taught to the participants of the Toronto workshop by the renowned choreographer. The first event of its kind in Canada, Dance Diaries allows Bollywood enthusiasts to train with leading dance choreographers from India, right here in Toronto. The workshops are conducted as a full-day and one-on-one sessions, in the Greater Toronto Area, and allow students to learn the tricks of the trade directly from maestros themselves.
The workshops this year drew a diverse response from across the country, with many participants visiting from cities outside of the GTA including Ottawa and Montreal. The students also had fun time training with Shampa who they described as friendly, approachable and full of energy.
Participants Safat Al Mansoor and Rameez Karim who travelled all the way from Ottawa and Montreal respectively to be part of the workshop, said they were extremely thankful for the opportunity. “Her (Shampa) energy is infectious. And she gave a contemporary spin to everything she taught. It was an amazing two days and a truly wonderful experience.”
Duet performers Medha Wadhwa and Shreya Kaushik, who both won the competition to win one on one tutoring with Shampa described their Dance Diaries journey as emotional. “When we started, we were nervous. But Shampa instantly made us feel at ease. She was funny, making small jokes. But she also constantly pushed our limits and gave us confidence that we could do what was required.”
“Last year we had the legendary Saroj Khan conduct workshops for students in the GTA. When I thought about who could take this journey forward, take the baton forward from her, I could think of no better name than Shampa Gopikrisha, who is not just the daughter of two legendary dancers, but also a very popular and established dancer herself. Shampa is the perfect prism of what Bollywood is today,” said Amin, who has brought forth Dance Diaries for Bollywood dance fans to learn the art of popular dance under the tutelage of Bollywood’s best choreographers’ and get a once in a lifetime opportunity to perform with the choreographer on stage during the final showcase.
“Dance Diaires is a promise Puja made to her students, that she would bring forth opportunities that will allow them to train with the best of the best, right here in Toronto,” says Renu Mehta, President Imagebuilderz, Media partners for the event. “As a Media Partner for the event, I feel proud to have the opportunity to support upcoming talent in Canada to train with stalwarts from the industry, something that would otherwise be difficult for the majority of these participants.”
Daughter of legendary Kathak maestro Natraj Gopikrishna, Shampa has twice won the Indian version of Dancing With the Stars, Jhalak Dikhla Jaa, with Gurmeet Chaudhury and Ashish Sharma. She has also choreographed the popular song Pinga from Bajirao Mastani, Ang Laga De from Ram Leela and Malang from Dhoom 3 among others. She has also recently completed choreographing for Hollywood movie, Heartbeats directed by Duane Adler, which is all set to release April 2017.
“I like anything that is connected with dance, be it choreographing, performing, training or judging something related to dance, I like everything that is connected to it. People in Canada are so friendly and I am so happy to be here. I’m so glad I will be able to leave a little bit of myself in all the students I have taught here,” says Shampa Gopikrishna. “All I want to say is that keep dancing, keep learning and be a student for life, because that’s what its all about.”