Versatile Interpreter Of A Global Dance Language


Fluid movements define his style. Rhythm becomes his eternal companion on the floor. Rhythm, music and body, all combine to present a performance that transcends all cultural boundaries. Sandip Soparrkar is a master, a teacher, a performer — an artiste who understands and embodies the perfection needed in ballroom dancing. He is credited for bringing western classical dance forms to the Indian ballroom.

His efforts have been recognised nationally as well as globally. Waltzing to fame, Sandip has won many accolades, including the National Excellence Award (2016), National Achievement Award (2014) and the prestigious Indo British Ballroom Dance Jewel Award (2017) conferred by the British Government.

Sandip’s tango with the stars has also brought him international fame. He has taught waltz and the cha cha cha to Madonna and Guy Ritchie, samba to Shakira, tango, to Beyonce Knowles, and has choreographed the chartbuster, Womaniser, for Britney Spears. He introduced the ‘Dancing in the Dark’ programme in the United States for the visually impaired, for which he was given The Visionary Award.

Sandip, a trained ballroom dance teacher and the first Indian to be certified by the Ballroom Dance Teachers Training School, Bonn, Germany, talks to Usha RK on aspects of western dancing in India. His choreography will be seen next in N Chandra’s Latin dance-based film, Cyclone, and other films.

Why did you choose western dance?

My parents and grandparents were in the Indian Army. I grew up watching live bands play waltz, foxtrot, jive and cha cha cha. My grandma and my mother would teach my brother and me a few steps. So, when it came to learning dance, it had to be the classic ballroom dancing.

What physical training did you undertake?

I learnt ballet for few years when I was young. Ballet helped me understand my body better and make my body lines stronger. When I moved to ballroom dancing, it added more style to my dance. Dancing helped me understand my body and its strength better. I could use the muscles to express the moves in the right manner.

What facilities are available for training and performance in India?

There are some amazing schools that teach international dances in India. They have superb teachers and training space. In fact, India is now also making international standard dancing shoes. India has been sending its dance athletes to Dance Sport Championships for Asian Games and Commonwealth Games. We have dance in our blood and soon we will be ruling the international dance arena as well.

Are cinema and Bollywood predictable avenues?

Well, yes, our cinema has become global. The films use a lot of international styles. Cinema is a predictable avenue for a western dancer. Then, there is television; wedding performances, corporate events and live shows. Of course, teaching is a huge way of earning for a well-trained dancer as he can easily start an institution if he wishes to take dance training as a profession.

What is your impression of Indian contemporary dance?

I feel, in India, we have three types of contemporary dances. First — what we see in the West — where the lines are inspired by ballet and modern dance. Second — an extension of the Indian classical dance, which constitutes mixed movements inspired from classical forms, and third — mostly seen on television — a contemporary Bollywood style. All three are beautiful and unique in their own ways. The contemporary Bollywood style is more for the masses.

How can we improve on how western dance styles are taught to the future generations?

We have to be very careful of what we take ahead to the next generation. Having a good technique in western dance styles is important because what we pass onto the next generation cannot be filtered or a watered-down version of the original style.

The only way to impart this knowledge is through its purest form, without mixing it with anything or any other style. Each dance style has its beauty and history. It brings with it own culture and tradition, so learning a style and teaching it in the same manner is very important. It is ok to experiment with the dance form after learning it completely.



“The only way to impart knowledge is through its purest form.” : Sandip Soparrkar