Choreographer Terence Lewis has many feathers in his cap – dancer, choreographer, reality show judge, actor and now filmmaker. Lewis, who is gearing up to direct his own film, which will be about two choreographers, says that Delhi and other cities in north India have given many good dancers to the industry. Terence says, “There are many good dancers in Delhi, thanks to a lot of training institute here. I feel dancers in Delhi are more serious than dancers in Mumbai, Mumbai dancers are spoiled because they want success and money fast, they are not willing to work hard. Delhi dancers really work hard and are passionate about what they are doing. In my entire company, I have only two people from Mumbai. The rest of the team is full of North Easterners and a lot of people from Delhi, Gurgaon and Amritsar.”
“We do not need people today who take up dancing just as a hobby. I only train people who want to pursue dancing professionally.” He feels that there was a change in training process required for professional dancers.
He adds, “Earlier, there were a lot of schools or ‘Gurukuls’ where teachers were like, “Oh, if I teach you, you be my slave,” which was really shocking to me. I faced the same issues and I always thought, why can’t I just learn dance and be own my own? The system was very autocratic and strictly followed ‘Guru-Shishya Parampara’, which was good but also harmful to the next generation. When I started training people, I shifted from hobby classes, as I realisedthat there are classes all over for those who want to learn dance as a hobby, but there are no classes for professionals. We stopped our franchise model. We switched from being an academy to a professional training institude, where I don’t want people who want to flirt with dance, I want people who want to make career out of dance. We have many talented young choreographers today who have even managed to break the old mafia sort of system in Bollywood, where only certain choreographers would get the chance to work in big films. Kriti, who has been a contestant in ‘DID’, has recently choreographed a song in ‘Padmavati’, there are so many young choreographer who are getting to work in big films and many TV shows.”
The choreographer made his debut as an actor in a short film, has completed writing the script of his film and is in the process of pitching it to production houses and distribution companies. Terence says,”It took me two years to write the script, which is part autobiography and part fiction. Dance will form the background of the film, which is a story of two choreographers.” Terence adds, He is also brushing up on his acting skills. Terence says, “I want to completely focus on my acting right now. I was offered some roles in the past, but I refused to do them as they were either insignificant roles or illogical films. There are so many young directors doing such great works today, I would rather be part of something sensible.”
Terence is happy being a judge on a dance reality shows beside working on his film and is glad to see that the level of improvement in these shows. Terence says, “From the time we started ‘Dance India Dance’ season 1, 2, 3, when there was complete lack of awareness of styles, technique and training, one can see a huge improvement till now. People know that you just can’t get away with latkas and jhatkas, they know that standards of dance shows are high, audiences’ expectation are high. That is why the biggest challenge that creative heads of dance reality shows face today is to come up with different ideas, concepts and acts, which are better than the previous season’s. Earlier, dance reality shows presented dance only as a form of entertainment, whereas dance reality shows today present the journey of a young dancer and show how tough it is to attain the level of perfection in dancing. People take dancing seriously, the respectability the art form had lost has returned, thanks to the many dance shows that came up after ‘DID’, who is presently judging celebrity dance reality show ‘Nach Baliye 8’.
On one of the episodes of the dance reality show Baba Ramdev was a guest. “Meeting him was a lot of fun. He came on stage and showed us some amazing asanas and how to do pranayams and anulom vilom. He called me a terrorist as I am very strict with contestants. He was very charming, we had a chat about yoga. He is very aggressive about what he believes in. He said he has never seen the show, but still wanted to be a guest. We also spoke about his love life and he said he had no love interest since he was a kid because he got into yoga very early, he told us that his purpose in life is ‘not to do bhog but to do yog’.”