He brings love of Bollywood home

2015-05-26 06:00
Ahneesh Valodia, the artistic director of Taare, wants to bring diverse people together through Indian dancing. 

Victor Kirov

Ahneesh Valodia, the artistic director of Taare, wants to bring diverse people together through Indian dancing. PHOTO: Victor Kirov

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Cape Town performance troupe Taare is bringing Bollywood to your doorstep.

Founded by Athlone’s Ahneesh Valodia, Taare aims to promote and preserve the Indian arts in “an original and creative manner”.

By using Bollywood song and dance, ­Ahneesh says they make Indian arts more accessible or appealing to audiences as well as the troupe’s dancers, helping them maintain a link to Indian culture and traditions.

Ahneesh explains that the term “Bollywood” refers to both traditional and modern Indian dance styles.

“It’s actually any style you can think of,” he says, adding: “It’s more the creative use of different dance styles.”

Ahneesh started dancing when he was eight years old and says he knew then already that that’s what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.

His plan was to pursue formal training after matric, but his “health started acting up”.

Although he was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, a degenerative muscle disease, Ahneesh performed as much as possible in his teens while he still could, until it got to a point where he needed to swop the stage for a wheelchair.

Dancing had become the centre of his life though and he couldn’t give up on his ­dreams, so he decided to switch performing for teaching and choreography.

Knowing that “there is a way around things” is what helped Ahneesh cope. By starting the troupe, he gets to help other dancers achieve their dreams.

Bollywood has always been Ahneesh’s first love. As a child he used to watch Bollywood movies and try the dances himself. While he’s a classically trained dancer, his Bollywood choreography is self-taught.

He started spreading the word about start­ing a troupe in 2012 and contacted dancers that he knew were not actively performing at the time.

With word of mouth Taare grew and the rest, as they say, is history.

In the beginning, Taare would ask dancers to book spaces at UCT residences for rehearsals. Today, however, they have a set venue at Rustenberg Girls’ High School where they rehearse every Saturday from 10:00 to 12:00 with extra rehearsals when they are preparing for a performance.

Ahneesh says the troupe of 30 dancers is made up of matriculants, students and professionals. “They come from all walks of life.”

He says the audition process is open to anyone, with no previous dance experience necessary.

Taare performs a few times a month and the group performs its own productions along with shows at charity, community or corporate events.

Ahneesh says, to his knowledge, Taare is the only Bollywood dance troupe in Cape Town. While there are Indian dance schools, Taare operates more like a dance company.

The group runs on a non-profit basis, relying on sponsorships and donations. At the moment, they are specifically looking for someone to help with their social media management.

Ahneesh explains that his troupe exists to provide a service to the community. They provide a platform for dancers to mature their talents and bring Indian dance to a wide range of audiences. V

Visit www.taare.co.za or www.facebook.com/­TaareDance for more information about Taare and its shows, to arrange an audition or to find out about helping the troupe in any way

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