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Dancer Spotlight: Minila Shah

By on Jun 16, 2014

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Meet Minila Shah

Minila is the Founder and Director of Ajna Dance Company, a New York based Indian dance company that offers Bollywood, Bhangra and Classical Indian dance classes for adults and children. Minila has trained extensively in the classical Indian dance form of Bharatanatyam and has also trained in Kathak. She has twice travelled to India to further her training in classical dance and yoga and has taught classes and performed internationally.

minila sd card 087She has worked with the BBC, Sky One and has provided choreography for television programs, theatre and film in the UK and US. Minila has received positive accolades from the The Times (London), TimeOut London and The Times of India highlighting her talent and success as a choreographer and dancer.

What sets her apart is her style which embraces the fun and freedom of Bollywood and Indian folk dance while maintaining the authenticity and integrity of classical Indian dance forms. Prior to moving to New York City and founding Ajna Dance, Minila was the Artistic Director of Bollywood Grooves Dance Company in London, UK.

We Interviewed Minila…

©Carlton S. Chotalal Jr.
1. What is your dance background?

50 copyI began training in Bharatanatyam from my Guru Menaka Thakkar, as a young child. It was my mom’s dream to learn dance and be a dancer. Since she was never able to do so, she was the person who pushed me back then. Years later, I completed my Arangetram in India and have also studied (and continue to train in) Kathak. My classical training is the foundation but I’ve also practiced Gujarati folk dance, Bhangra and Bollywood dance throughout my dance career.

2. Tell Us About Your First Dance Performance.
As a kid, before I even started training I used to perform for our family and friends whenever they came over. I remember dancing to an old Rekha song by mimicking her in the film and my mom when I was four. I think there’s an old school video of it out there somewhere.

3. Why SA?
Sa represents a beautiful combination of both rich Indian dance and contemporary movement. It blends old with new while _MG_0946V3ss (10x16) (1)
maintaining the integrity of the dance styles which is unique and rare.

4. Who are your role models?
My mom and my dad. Their wisdom, support, guidance and positive influence is beyond measure.

5. Will you be dancing at 80?
I’ll be dancing into my afterlife. :)

6. If you were stuck in a room and could only do one dance move over and over again what would it be?
I don’t know!

7. One word that describes dance to you.
Meditation. Dance is my moving meditation where I’m in the moment and not thinking about anything. I’m lost in the dance and it is a blissful state.