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Dancing dreams

Choreographer, dancer, instructor Lourd Vijay talks to Nandini Nair on spreading the Salsa

Expression of passion Lourd Vijay in action

He came to dance by default but is credited with having made Bengaluru the Salsa capital of the country. Lourd Vijay, Founder of Lourd Vijay Dance Studios (LVDS) and I-Salsa Club, was in the Capital recently for the third India International Salsa Co ngress, organised by Kingfisher. LVDS is one of the only Salsa schools in India to have completed 10 years. Because of his schools, some 30,000 people now know how to shine their moves.

Lourd is easy to spot at the Ashok Coffee Shop, with his close-cropped hair and lean frame. On seeing us approach, he quickly stubs out a cigarette.

For a man who performed till 4a.m. and then walked the whole night as he had a punctured tyre in a car with no jack, he is supremely amiable. Finishing a cappuccino, he slips into a deep conversation.

Hailing from the streets of the Caribbean, Salsa, feels Lourd, is a democratic and not an elitist form. He adds, with a warm laugh, “I will be glad if Bharatanatyam becomes a club dance form. Then everybody will do it!”

Democratic form

The Salsa Congress, open to all people, is his attempt to share Salsa with everyone. Believing that our culture is dance-centric and noticing that couple-dances dominate Bollywood, he feels Salsa is not foreign. He goes on to explain, “Flamenco has its roots in Kathak. It travelled from Punjab to Spain, so now it has completed a full circle.”

It is said that Kathak dancers migrated from India to Persia and the Middle East. In Andalusia Kathak evolved into the Flamenco.

Now Lourd reunites the ancestors with their followers. His four-year pet project was to fuse Salsa with Indian dance forms. Collaborating with Kathak and Bharatanatyam dancers, he has produced the “Indian Salsa Sutra”. It premiered at the Hong Kong Salsa Festival to an enthusiastic response. Defending the fusion, he explains, “As long as you respect the technique, you can infuse anything into it. The good thing about Salsa is that you can add anything to it.”

For Lourd, high payments are proof of how the dance scene has evolved. “We now get up to three lakhs for a half-an-hour show. You have got to pay people for their expertise. The art form needs to be respected.” This has also helped bring people into the fold. Lourd says that some of his dancers gave up lucrative IT jobs for dance. He says, “I feel it has to be full time, whether it is dance or work. I don’t think it should be bifurcated.”

A graduate in Environment Science and an MBA in Marketing, Lourd, does, however combine his business fingers with his dancing feet. He admits, “I’m a very greedy instructor. It comes from the business side of me.”

This business sense explains his respect for Shiamak Dawar, he says, “I greatly respect Shiamak. He is a benchmark for branding. And as for his shows — they are as good as what’s on Broadway.”

Dance gear

Furthering his business, Lourd even has a Wear to Dance line that provides comfortable dance gear for people.

While he imports his products now, he hopes to open four stores nationally. With numerous dance centres in Bengaluru, Lourd hopes to make his presence felt in Delhi soon. Another project dear to his heart is the opening of a home for retired artists.

What does he think of Delhi’s Salsa dancers? He first hedges saying he sees no real difference between Delhi and Bengaluru, then goes on to elaborate, “In Delhi it tends to be very lively. It’s also more Bhangra-based!”

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