If you've ever dreamt of mirroring the fancy footwork of a Bollywood dancer, now is your chance to be taught by a master. The Telugu and Hindi film star Meghna Naidu, who made her debut in the 2004 film Hawas and is known for her role in the hugely popular music video Kaliyon Ka Chaman, is establishing an academy in the UAE. We got a sneak peek of the dance school before the curtains lift this summer.
What prompted you to set up a Bollywood dance academy in Dubai?
I have been performing in the UAE for the past 10 years and have always been very respected and appreciated by the Indian community in Dubai. Hence, I felt it was time to give back something in return. I am a joint-partner in an event management and promotions company based here, so it was a logical step to launch a Bollywood dance academy. Our main centre will be located in Karama as that is where the bulk of the Indian community are. We also plan to have a centre in Dubai Marina as we've had a lot of interest from expatriates there.
Who are the dance classes pitched at? Will they hold any appeal for those who don't have an in-depth knowledge of Hindi cinema?
Ideally we would encourage children to start as early as four years of age so we can work on their coordination, balance and technique. This makes it easier for them to learn dance sequences. We will of course focus on all other ages as well, including adults, particularly stay-at-home mothers looking to have fun and get a great workout.
Bollywood dancing has a worldwide audience these days and we have had many enquiries from Westerners who are very keen to learn - so we're not only focusing on the Indian market. We want to take Bollywood dancing and introduce it to a global audience!
You studied classical Bharatanatyam dance for seven years. What was the most challenging part of learning the art form?
Coming from a South Indian background, it was very important for my mom - who is also a classical dancer [Kathakali] - to teach us some form of classical dance. Bharatanatyam was the most common in those days, so we were sent to learn it. It really helped me a lot with my postures and my balance for Bollywood dancing. I have always believed that if you are focused, dedicated and work hard to achieve what you want then nothing in this world can stop you - and to be a great Bollywood dancer, that's what you need.
Are the courses going to run beyond the summer months?
The Academy will officially start at the beginning of the academic year here in Dubai - September. But we will also be running a number of camps in July and August as a "soft opening" and it provides an indoor activity which is both fun and challenging during the summer months. We are currently taking registrations for both the summer camps and the academy programme.
Reflecting over your career to date, which period has been the most enjoyable and why?
I am enjoying every minute. Especially every time I get to perform or dance in front of an audience. For the last 10 years, and having done more than 800 shows around the world, I still remember every dance performance - mainly because I love what I do. I have loved every minute spent in a rehearsal studio and on stage.
Career-wise, what else is in the pipeline for you?
I'm in the process of expanding into the USA. I'm in discussions to set-up a Meghna Naidu Academy in New York possibly in 2013 or the first quarter of 2014. And due to these business obligations, I will not be touring and performing as much as I have done in the past - but instead I will continue to do a few selected shows.
For more details, go to www.meghnanaidudance.com, register online at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 04 357 7727. Bollywood summer camp costs Dh899 for a two-week course, which includes 30 hours of dance instruction. Dance programmes at the academy cost Dh50 per class