Shantanu Maheshwari on going international

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Actor and International dancer Shantanu Maheshwari has been a part of some large scale virtual International dance events in the past few months. From winning the Global Dance Visual competition with his dance crew Desi Hoppers among a host of other countries, to representing India as a judge for the very first time at South Africa based Global Dance Supreme event, Shantanu has made the country proud by making a strong mark at these prestigious global-scale events. In an exclusive chat with DNA, he shared his views about the importance of international recognition as a dancer and performer. 

In 2020 you have had a lot of International exposure as a judge and a winner of a digital dance competition, how was both the experiences?

I feel that the kind of exposure you are exposed to and the overall experience which is always larger than life, are the highlights of being part of International events. 2020 despite the pandemic, gave me the chance to experience two major digital International dance competitions as a participant and a judge, both of which were great experiences. The World of Dance Global Dance Visual competition was one which came as a total surprise to our crew when we found out our music video was selected for it. While there were pandemic based restrictions while shooting for the video, we had a great time creating something we like doing and in our own style, which was appreciated and liked by people from different parts of the world. So winning the competition definitely came along as the cherry on the cake for our entire crew.

The Global Dance Supreme competition gave me my first ever experience as a judge representing India, which was an honour. It was a South Africa based competition, so this was the first time I witnessed some amazing dancing talent the country had to offer. There was also an interactive session behind the cameras with the judging panel from other countries, which proved to be a great learning experience for me as there was a lot I understood about various cultures and working styles, in turn helping me to expand my knowledge. 

As a dancer and a performer, how important do you feel International exposure of your work is?

International exposure forces you to think creative, think big and be original. The reach these International events have is tremendous, as they are not only restricted to our country and people to see, but they are exposed to people from all over the world to witness. The audience and circle of people who have observed our work has been on a much larger scale, which in fact adds in a lot more responsibility to the expectation being created by us. Getting a whiff of International recognition also made us aware of the global market, their ways of working, different cultures and the various kind of content they have to offer. The pressure aspect that came along with it, helped us to adapt to any situation in a better manner. 

You have been a part of many reality shows in the West, so how different is reality TV there compared to here?

Both sets of reality shows here and in the west have their own charm, though the west is definitely more technically advanced. Their shooting styles are very different compared to how we shoot here. They are thorough professionals and extremely organized and disciplined with their shoots. The way they shoot reality TV is more like a 5-6 hour live event where audiences actually pay money to come and watch the shoot. While their show concepts are more cut to cut and performance-oriented, our Indian reality shows have a lot more masala, so I am glad to have experienced the best of both worlds.

Do you feel that the International tag as a winner and a participant on a global scale has helped you gain a lot more projects here?

I would like to hope so. There is no tool to measure this aspect, but I would like to hope that these global-scale projects have helped me gain recognition and converted into work out here. I enjoy being a part of International projects, but for me, it’s more about representing India and doing something for the country rather than just the fame and work aspect of it. Not only speaking about myself but on behalf of our crew Desi Hoppers as well, all of us have collectively and individually tried to be a part of projects on an international level to pave the way for the entire Indian dance community at International platforms. This is something we will continue to do to help create more awareness about the talent that lies within Indian dancers and help them achieve their dreams of being at such places. 

You are an inspiration to so many aspiring young dancers, so any tips you would you want to share with them on how to present their work on an international level?

Nothing is impossible. Especially now, due to social media booming with so many digital events, which were not available back in our times, there are many opportunities to participate in competitions at international levels. This has opened up a lot of opportunities for aspiring dancers to participate in these virtual events.

Though I have noticed that Indian dancers are unassertive when it comes to their talent, especially those who are talented. This needs to change and can only happen when you remember to never think less of yourself, have your individual style, be original and ensure a healthy way of critiquing yourself or get someone to do that for you, so you can improve. It is also important to be true to the art and celebrate dance, rather than just running behind fame and recognition which comes along with these big avenues. Eventually, it is your passion and love for dance that will help bring out the best of you as a performer on these platforms.

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