My first experience with movement and dance started at the age of 4, when my mother took me for a ballet class at The Audrey Joyce School of Dance. In India, my mother’s father didn’t allow her to learn any form of dance whilst growing up – she wished to offer me what she was denied. As an adult, she did however forge her own path of discovery with movement when she moved to London after marriage through Yoga, teaching young adults at Universities. My father has been passionate about music since an early/young age. He was born in Nairobi where in the 50’s his father opened up a music shop introducing him to indian and western music. ‘Shankardass and Sons’ was the first shop in East Africa to sell western and indian instruments, records and sheet music. It was here where he became immersed in the sounds and melodies of both genres going on to teach himself the piano and guitar. Both genres of music have co-existed/played throughout our home in a spontaneous happy tandem, becoming a huge source of inspiration for my creative dance nature, inviting and encouraging me to move and create movement, since as long as I can remember.
I remember a feeling over a thought. How it felt all at once/ in those moments in a class or on my own listening to the music playing, to not use my voice to express but allow my body to take the lead and feel all the emotions that music inspires/sparks within. It felt like home. My introspective journey began with those sparks, through the power of my body communing with spirit and soul, encouraged and nurtured/supported by music. My dance classes were the most intimate times in my day to converse with my soul and understand my emotions better, without using words.
My mother wanted me to give the opportunity and freedom to discover dance, with the intentions of encouraging;
- Good posture
- Balance, Freedom of expression
- And to stand up straight!
She never imagined in those early days that dance would or even could be a professional career path for me. Inspired by those original intentions of my mother, I have realised on a much deeper level that these energies are a big part of my life’s learning in challenging my personal growth towards ;
- A healthy attitude towards life in align with my purpose
- Nurturing a balance between mind body and spirit and creative expression
- Standing up for what I believe in and expressing it!
I faced challenges with the foundations that my feet provided for the rest of my body, in stillness and in motion when discovering dance not long after I had begun to walk!
Ballet,the approach to dance that I started with and decided to continue with requires the added challenge of strength to support external rotation from the hips which poses further complexities on the structure of the body, and greatly impacted and influenced by the feet. My feet were already presenting challenges and risk in parallel, let alone in ‘turnout’ and in periods of my training and career seemed like a near impossible task to achieve with power and strength, but I didn’t want to give up learning about how i could improve my alignment and support my structure to continue to dance.
I struggled with finding stable alignment, balance and strength. My feet certainly weren’t ideal for dancing let alone the complexities of ballet technique and imposed unhealthy alignment in my posture when not consciously corrected. After training in ballet technique for some time with increased intensity, I encountered some injuries, which in rehabilitating and taking time off to strengthen consequently allowed me to begin to develop a more heightened awareness in understanding these foundations which were supporting me – whether I was dancing, walking or standing still to notice how all that rests upon those 2 feet of ours for support is greatly impacted by their alignment and stability. I began to discover the deeper technologies of the body combined with lighter subtle energies through challenges.
This lifelong challenge since the start of my relationship with movement and presence continues to be one of my greatest teachers and allies.
Alongside my ballet training I was an avid swimmer and synchronised swimmer where my feet and their inherent instability didn’t matter one bit and I could float, propel myself along and dance in the water without ever having to ground! My after school evenings and weekends became increasingly busy and tiring and I eventually had to make a choice to focus on one. I think I chose grounded dance and Ballet at this moment in time because I wanted to figure out the challenge for me in dancing on the earth!
My musical learning and practice journey started at 7 years old starting with the harmonium and then studying piano for the next 9 years, dabbling with. the flute and vocal lessons along the way. A sensibility to music, it’s patterns, rhythms and dynamics and how it made me feel and imagine, developed my listening ear/capacity and became a useful guide and stimulus when creating dance and choreography. Music transports me to otherworldly realms and possibilities and yet connects me to all present life and emotions.
At the age of 9, free creative movement was the final part of my Saturday morning training sessions as a Junior Associate with The Royal Ballet School. Here we had the freedom to explore how we wanted to create and direct our movements. This was undoubtedly my favorite part of these long mornings and they nurtured and encouraged me to keep on making movement decisions. This desire for creative movement developed into a keen curiosity and wonder for choreography. Music combined with imagination was the main stimulus and motivation/inspiration to create, calling and inviting the partner of dance to join in response. To this day, music speaks volumes to my soul, finding resonance and connection to my emotive centre. Music stirs up memories, images, emotions and ideas, and along with dance and is an evolving energetic companion in my life.
I went on to train full time at The Royal Ballet School, for 8 years, where I received a Diploma in Classical Ballet. During my time at the school, I created a number of choreographies, for which I was awarded the James Monahan Award in 1994 and Dame Ninette De Valois Award in 2nd place in 1994 and 1995.
Painting became another passion when I was 14 and studying Art for my G.C.S.E’s and has continued into my adult life. I find joy in the movement of strokes and in the choreographic composition of colours shapes textures along with a melody which sings from my imagination. It has contributed greatly to my creative movement teaching practices in the possibilities of sharing how we can visualise our inner space and re-paint our insides inspired by emotions colours and images which have some meaning or hold inspiration for us.
My love for Language, poetry and prose and literature from an early age has been ever inspiring in my movement journey. Stories, phrases, quotes have been sources of inspiration, allowing me to re imagine new possibilities of narratives in my work, guiding and grounding a creation into existence and inspiring movement. As an adult, the playful creative use of language and words through Poetry and prose has become yet another outlet for my expression and mode of communication for teaching practice and in and of itself, another kind of choreography. The resonance, meaning and configuration of words create qualities and dynamics and serve as an invitation to explore and delve into our inner world and draw parallels to the outer world we find ourselves in.
Becoming a professional
My career began with my first professional engagement with Zürcher Junior Ballet in 2001 continuing to join Zurcher Ballet in 2004. My schedule, training, performance, management, lifestyle and self care changed gears as I entered a whole new phase of self development and learning. I went on to join Victor Ullate Ballet in Madrid, Spain in 2006 and Ballet Black in London in 2008. By 2009 after taking some time off due to an ankle injury I sustained in 2007 which didn’t rehabilitate/recover effectively, I was introduced to Boglarka Hatala, Embodiment coach and Physiotherapist who re – educated and re – awakened the potential, capability and power of my body to heal and strengthen through pschomotorics approach, finding the most efficient and empowering pathways for me to communicate through movement and take care of my body. (*Psychomotor education is a pedagogic and therapeutic approach, the aim of which is to support and aid an individual’s personal development. It is based on a holistic view of human beings that considers each individual as a unity of physical, emotional and cognitive actualities, which interact with each other and the surrounding social environment.) Through Boglarka I learnt about a teacher in London called Renato Paroni where I could continue to learn and train and which would be supportive to my training. then directed me to Renato Paroni with whom I retrained with in Equal weight ballet technique, created by Tina Bernal. Healing and stronger, I went on to join Scottish Ballet in 2009 and then Compañía Nacional de Danza from 2011 until 2017.
Over the 16 years of working with these companies, I performed in a range of classical, neo classical and contemporary repertoire from world renowned choreographers such as Spoerli, Ullate, Scarlett, Jeyasingh, Alston, Martinez, Kylian, Forsythe, Naharin, Stevenson, Scholz, Montero and Balanchine.
Ballet technique has provided me with anatomical insight, precision, clarity, understanding and detail with which to approach other dance styles and ideas with depth and information for encountering a variety of techniques, as well as in my life! There came a time when my movement patterns were calling to be altered and my expression wanted to discover and create other forms to journey through/embody authentically as I grew emotionally and spiritually.
By 2011 and in joining CND, I was very keen to experiment and learn more contemporary vocabulary and ideas. Contemporary movement ideas, influences and practices provide me with a wider access to yet more avenues and processes, encouraging me to become curious about how movement can best express an idea, emotion, or story, offering up a wider palette of movement and sensory resources for embodiment to find and evolve my own contemporary language/voice. Over time, I noticed my movement choices leaning towards more organic and freeing decisions to explore all that our body is capable of and has to offer. I discovered more potential in going deeper within, becoming more playful for a richer experience holistically, combined with purpose and intention.
I learnt that in overcoming the hurdles presented and embracing the injuries I encountered along my way, improved my mental, physical and emotional capacity and potential. My perceptions changed and in becoming/being aware, the injuries invited/called me to delve deeper into the inner workings of the body and understand my structure, personal expression to generate strength. Injuries led me to become aware of how I was using my body and to understand and find a truer alignment for myself to guide and support me in a holistic and integrated way, energetically and spiritually and physically. The pain and loss of ability to move at times allowed me to take time to process and develop my approach. Taking me deeper and leading me to the origins, essence and source of movement.
Two injuries that had significant impact on my progress were left ankle sprains and right shoulder dislocations. These repetitive traumas not only physically but mentally and energetically brought my awareness to how I was navigating the use of my art form, its purpose and how I was living my life. They taught me and reminded me persistently to realign and reconnect with my personal emotions and intentions. Looking back I can see now that I may have become injured when I was unclear of my intentions or purpose when dancing. Since becoming a teenager I was also challenged with stage fright and went on a progressive journey of discovering and experimenting with ways to find peace with being on stage and to truly be myself in movement, accessing and reaching fuller potential in both practice and performance.
After these years of expressing the visions of others and bringing them to life, interspersed with droplets of my own creations, I reached a point in my personal experience and in making sense of the world, of trying to fit in and what I should express and be rather than what I could express or felt I was. I followed an itch/inkling to immerse myself back into the world and be again with myself and in time the wider community to experience and observe how the world was doing and what was really going on outside of those studios and theatre’s walls which so safely protected and held me and my creativity till that point. To dream and re-imagine what visions I wished to be brave enough to create; whether they be inspired by personal experience or the current state of the world or the desire to activate change, move towards peace, find/channel expression and challenge my creative capacity and growth. There has always been a whisper in my ear calling me to keep on creating, reminiscent of the fearless courage I had simply as an 11year old.
Moving from exclusivity and elitism to inclusivity and community.
I’m glad I decided to listen once more/keep listening. It was the time to/It became ‘about time’ in taking the risk to free fall back into my own soul and begin again to fulfill my skin and accept my entire being. Dance and movement in its relationship and understanding to life, not a seperate performed art form.
In 2017 I met Yashwant Patel -Transformative life coach who has been guiding me on my personal and professional journey in coming back home to myself, to take on new challenges and realise my potential.
In Spring of 2017 and again 2018 I had the opportunity to meet Suzanne Linke and Minako Seki respectively, through workshops they shared. These 2 female choreographers greatly inspired and influenced me with their deep passion for nature, stillness and expression. Their approaches resonated profoundly and deeply within me at this time in my life and creative and educational journey and challenged me further to reconsider how I was creating.
In 2018 he led me to meet Bhavin Solanki who introduced me to Gary Ward’s Anatomy in Motion method, furthering my experience and education in body awareness with bio mechanical assessment and approach.
I completed a BA Degree in Humanities and Innovation via distance learning from The Open University in 2017.
I was a finalist in the Asian Jewel Awards in the media and arts category in 2003.
Whilst dancing with Zurcher Ballet, my director Heinz Spoerli, who, in becoming aware of my desire to choreograph, commissioned me to create a work for Zurcher Junior Ballet.
‘Capture’ was premiered at The Zurich Opera House in 2006.
Inspired by Nitin Sawhneys’ ‘Homelands’ I created my first solo work in 2010 of the same name. Here I began a journey of connecting and creating on myself to music inspired by an artist of a similar background as mine with a shared culture of being a british asian.
I choreographed ‘Synergy’ as part of a young choreographers performance for Ballet Black at The Clore Studio, Royal Opera House in 2011.
In 2010/2012 I met composer/ musician/producer Shammi Pithia, another artist with whom I shared culture and background and felt a connection with artistically. We collaborated to create the work ‘Jaane Ajnabee’ which was premiered as part of a Young Choreographers initiative by Compania Nacional de Danza at Teatro Zarzuela in Madrid before taking it on tour to Mercat de las Flors in Barcelona.
I was commissioned to create a work for the TVE Global sustainability film awards in 2012. Inspired by the piece of music ‘Shadowlines’ by Flux, I choreographed and performed a duet of the same name.
In 2016 I co – produced and performed in the collaborative work ‘In Other Words’ with Flux featuring Sabiyha at Kings Place, choreographed by Richard Bermange in creative collaboration with the dancers. Inspired by the poem ‘Journey Home’ by Rabindranath Tagore, this collaboration was the welcome prelude of the journey home to myself to re-explore my creativity in becoming freelance/independent 6 months later, leading to my return home to London the following year.
Upon becoming freelance, I took part in ‘Una manana en danza’ an initiative by Beta Publica in Madrid bringing dance to local schools. I performed the Solo ‘You know how I feel’ By Luisa Maria Arias. I choreographed and assisted singer/songwriter Sabiyha in movement direction for her music video “Bird” released in 2018.
In moving back to London, I worked with Sujata Banerjee Dance Company teaching body and postural alignment and ballet in their Summer School, and later assisting and performing in their production of ‘Swan Lake’ retold through Kathak dance. I performed in Hubert Essakow’s ‘The Game’ a collaboration with a live pianist, exploring improvisation in live performance between musician and dancers as part of Family Sundays at Royal Opera House. In 2019, I performed in ‘The Art of Failure’ by Adrian Look with TTAL at The Place.
I returned to choreographing on myself with the solo works ‘Sundown’ and ‘Rainsoaked..’ and the duets ‘Lightweight’ for Normansfield Theatre with Pierre Tappon and ‘Umbra.’with George Baan.
I assisted Mithun Gill in movement direction and dramaturgy for his choreography “Unfold me” for Emerge Festival 2020.
Sharing with others
Power of movement and our decisions/actions/intentions to create the dance and dance of life itself. Movement can challenge and impact our perception, emotions, actions, creation and evolution. PEACE.
In my relationship with dance creation and through the essence of the wide spectrum of movements our bodies possess – I keep on discovering and being inspired by the nature, dynamics, energies, shifts and colours of life and our environment. It has empowered me in the dance of life itself, encouraging me to develop and evolve as a person and artist. With continuing and changing enquiries, life’s experiences and expectations, I understand through movement how I can better direct and express myself to find more freedom.
It has always encouraged a journey inward with the sense of connecting to my inner compass to navigate how I share and direct my expression and visions with my environment/world/surroundings and others.
I have been teaching a range of styles through private and open group classes workshops for all ages and diverse backgrounds over the last 10 years across the UK, Europe and Asia/around the world. In the U.K I have taught at Danceworks, Central School of Ballet, Ballet Black (Sunday open classes), Ballet 4 Life, Sujata Banerjee Dance Company and school. I co-facilitated ‘Partnering in Dance’ course with Mark Kelly at The Place and I have been invited to teach company class for AVA Dance company and Ballet Black company. In Europe I have taught Ballet and creative contemporary movement at Centro de Danza in Segovia and Gruñidos Salvajes in Madrid and in Asia for Hamara Footpath (a charity for street children) and Shaimak Dawar’s Dance troupe in India and Edge n pointe Dance studio in Hong Kong..
I relocated back to London to continue exploring my creative opportunities in the U.K, I became a freespace artist with Studio Wayne Macgregor. As part of their outreach programme I have shared my solo work ‘Rainsoaked…’ with The Garden School for Autistic children in Hackney.
I have facilitated meditation into movement sessions for the community at The World Peace Garden Camden and for the residents of Grace House Camden.
In nurturing an evolving teaching practice, I address different enquiries and motivations for diversity and inclusivity of the wider community to share dance with and facilitate healthy movement for Wellbeing. I founded Welcome Movement in 2019 to offer wellbeing sessions combining Meditation and Movement to promote personal peace, inspire awareness and potential to support our ever evolving lifestyle.
My teaching practice draws inspiration from Somatics, BMC, Tai Chi and Yoga and participate in workshops and sessions along with self learning to further my movement research and approach as I continue to delve into and learn more about somatic practices to assist movement.