Choreographer Terence Lewis who will soon be seen in India’s Best Dancer as a judge along with Geeta Kapur and Malaika Arora spoke about what prompted him to take up the show, how dance helped him in his life, his co-judges and much more...
1.What prompted you to come on board as a judge on India’s Best Dancer?
I loved the theme of the show and its format. Sony Entertainment Television has been responsible for making successful shows. And honestly, it has been a while since I have been a part of a reality show that judges contestants purely on talent and who are so passionate about dancing and who even dance for a living. So, it’s fun to be back on a show which is all about dance. India's Best Dancer will be one show on Indian television, that is sure to create history with its content and the talent it will offer to its audience. Also, I am glad to be on the judges' panel with Geeta Kapur and Malaika Arora. We share a great rapport.
2. What makes India’s Best Dancer stand out from the other dance reality shows?
India's Best Dancer will be different because a contestant has to win over the judges' approval only within 90 seconds. They only get 90 seconds that will decide their destiny. And if they prove their mettle as performers, only then they will earn their next chance ahead. We will be very strict and asseses the contestants only on merit.
3. What kind of talent are you expecting, and have they met your expectations so far?
It’s amazing to see the level of talent these days. The current generation is so creative that they are taking little of what they have and making so much out of it. So, it shows their creative potential. I find the current generation quite unabashed and unfettered by culture and norms. I really love that. More importantly, I am seeing a mix of style because there are so many influences that people are taking inspirations from everywhere and creating something new. Therefore, this season I am looking for 'hybrid dancers', who have been influenced by cross culture by various dance styles and found their own voice and blend the styles and made it their own. I am intrigued by a lot of contestants and looking forward to be surprised by their performances.
4. Why is this show called as the toughest dance reality show?
It's going to be tough because the judges won't get influenced by anything else but pure, effortless dance. It's going to be challenging for contestants to come up with acts that have not been explored earlier and to retain the novelty factor. So, they better realise this and keep evolving with every performance. The idea is to keep presenting yourself in ways and forms you've never done before, and challenge your creativity to only rise further.
5.What are the key aspects that you will be looking at while selecting or judging a contestant?
Geeta, Malaika and I are the ENT specialists on the show. I am going to be looking at the techinque in their dance. Whereas my co-judge Geeta will scout for the newness in their performances, Malaika will be making sure the contestants don't miss out on the entertainment factor. Even if everything in an act is good, but if it lacks in the entertainment department, the audience will remain disappointed. So, we will ensure we assess the contestants on all these parameters.
6. A lot of people are now learning dance through the internet and training themselves, do you think it’s a good thing or would you recommend formal training?
I think the access to people is so much easier now. The fact that I get suggestions to see someone’s dance video on Instagram, because I am a choreographer, is great. Now, there are so many platforms such as YouTube, Instagram and Facebook, throwing suggestions to spot talent. Through the internet a lot of young kids are getting opportunities to be spotted from any location in the world. The process is faster, and the competition is tougher. However, I think the level is way higher now. Having said that, learning it formally has its own advantages and training certainly helps, and it reflects in your performances. The young generation today inspires me tremendously and thanks to the internet, I don't need to even know them or see them live! Social media has allowed us to get in touch with great talent without the need for a filtered platform.
7.We have seen across so many reality shows, that every contestant has an endearing story or a journey; what has been your journey in the field that you excel in?
It has been a long and beautiful journey. To put in a few words won't do justice to the variety of experiences, moments that I have had in my life. I feel blessed to be born in an era, where there were challenges of its own kind, however the competition was not so stiff. The pace was gradual and we had enough time to prepare ourselves. Also for us, there was a lot of learning on the job. So I am grateful for people who have been the backbone in my journey and have stood by me through all phases of my career and life. The pleasure of meeting a whole range of people in different cities,countries and exchanging creative ideas with international dancers has been a very gratifying experience. The learning has been exceptional and I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. There are no regrets, only happy takeaways from every phase in my life.
8. How much has dance helped you in real life?
Dance is life. It has given me everything that I have and ever wanted in my life. Other than professional achievements and laurels, it has brought so much joy and happiness to my life. I have had the good fortune of coming across some wonderful people and talent in my journey through dance. I have got the opportunity to travel the world through my love for dance. And like they say, if you love your work, it is not work anymore. It's your way of living and when you are passionate about something, you never give up on your passion. Dance has also taught me focus, sincerity, work ethic, and much more!
9. Who according to you is the best dancer in the industry and why?
There are many great dancers. Right from Birju Maharajji, to actresses such as Waheeda Rehmanji, Vyajanthimala, Rekhaji, Madhuri Dixit, the late Sridevi, all are phenomenal dancers. Also Prabhu deva, Govinda, Hrithik Roshan, Shahid Kapoor, Tiger Shorff! But the real stars with talent are the dancers on our show! No match to that.
10. If not dance, what would have been your fall-back career option?
I can't imagine anything but dance as my profession. Maybe, I would have been a world class athlete or a life coach.
11. Who is your inspiration when it comes to dance?
There are many people who inspire you. Every dancer has their own unique qualities and something that you can learn. It's difficult to pinpoint and name just one person. People also inspire you with their work and incredible achievements, and more importantly the goodwill that they have created in their domain and profession.
12.There are still so many parents out there who feel dance is a waste of time and not a fulfilling career option – what would you like to say to them?
Dance alone has been responsible for so many people who have made it big in life. And with so many mediums and options available to the current generation today, one can surely make a successful career in dance. The thought process of people is already changing, and for those who still think dance is a waste of time, I think they have enough and more examples in front of them for them to look at. I'd say beyond just career, dance also helps inculcating good habits as well gets you to be fitness conscious. It has only benefits to offer. So, there is only win-win. Also, now the industry is open to welcoming new talents from across the country and is open to new ideas. There couldn't have been a better time for dancers. Having said that, dance isn't for everyone and it's not an easy career physically, emotionally or financially. So, you need to really be passionate and in love with dance to do this because every other career will seem like an easier option!
13.Describe your co-judges in one word.
I would like call Geeta 'nurturer' and Malaika is 'grace personified'.
14.If you had to give one song for your co-judge to perform on, which one would it be and why?
I would like to pick the song 'Mar Daala' from the film Devdas, for Geeta. And for Malaika, Yeh Mere Dil Pyaar Ka Deewana from Don.