x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Sharmila Dance Gala at Ductac to feature international line-up

The Sharmila Dance Gala promises a powerful showcase of ballet, contemporary, jazz, salsa, tango and hip-hop.

Sharmila Kamte, who runs the Sharmila Dance Company in Dubai, says dance is 'a part of culture and life'.
Sharmila Kamte, who runs the Sharmila Dance Company in Dubai, says dance is 'a part of culture and life'.

One minute you're smiling and the next you're in tears; before you know it, you're dancing in your seat. A night of emotions that leaves you begging for more - this is what the first ever Sharmila Dance Gala promises on Wednesday and Thursday at the Dubai Centrepoint Theatre.

The show's impressive line-up includes special guest performers from the Stuttgart Ballet and the Estonian National Ballet. Locally based dancers from the Bucharest National Opera House and BNF Dance Company will also perform alongside professional dancers from the Dubai-based Sharmila Dance Company.

Various dance styles including ballet, contemporary, jazz, salsa, tango and hip-hop will be highlighted.

"The gala is an evening when you sit down and are accosted by so many different styles," said Sharmila Kamte, the founder of Sharmila Dance. "It will be an hour of complete and utter emotions that you haven't felt. It will be exciting and fun and people will ask when the next one will be."

Stars from the Stuttgart and Estonian companies will be performing the classical pas de deux from the Sleeping Beauty and Nutcracker ballets, as well as the cutting-edge contemporary pieces Little Monsters and Time.

The gala will also feature the locally based ballerina Loredana Elena Teodorescu, formerly a principal dancer with the Bucharest National Opera House, performing a pas de deux from Swan Lake - a ballet familiar even to the non-ballet-going public as a result of the film Black Swan - with the Colombian José Luis Quiceno.

BNF, which holds the world championship in Latin dance, will perform tango and salsa numbers, while members of Sharmila Dance will present jazz, hip-hop and contemporary dance pieces.

"I wanted everyone on the show to be professional and passionate about what they do, to provide something to the market that has never been done before - a mixture of local and international talent of a very high level," said Kamte, who began studying professional dance at 15 years old.

With some 500 students attending various classes at the company each week, Kamte said one of her main aims was to show the hard work and talent that goes into dance, which in turn could lead to more investment in developing the field.

"The main message is dance. When I came to Dubai 12 years ago, dance was considered something you only do in certain places, so for me I had a couple years of struggle. But dance is cultural," she said. "It's also a great sport and definitely an art that has not been appreciated in this part of the world, until very recently."

What is needed, she believes, is a strong foundation.

"I would love to see this region have a dance centre that is funded. Education about dance needs to start with schools because it's a part of culture and life," she said. "It's about educating kids so that tomorrow when they see someone dance, they won't laugh - they'll think, wow!"

One teenager who was taken with dance from the start is Thomas Carre, a Briton who has lived in Dubai since he was two years old. Having tried the street jazz class at Sharmila Dance for the first time five years ago, the 19-year-old now works there full-time, training to be a dance instructor. He is also responsible for mixing the music for all the shows.

"I never knew dance was like this. There is structure and many styles which really interested me," said Carre. "I began taking regular classes and my sisters also got involved. I have a feel for hip-hop but all styles with Sharmila are great because there are different feelings expressed, whether through contemporary, ballet or hip-hop."

Another dance student-turned-teacher is 28-year-old Emma Hayes, an administration manager for Sharmila Dance. Both she and Carre will be performing during the gala.

"Firstly, I never thought I'd be able to do half the things I was able to do," said the half-Scottish, half-Welsh Hayes. "Concerts were great. For example, we did Formula One when Kelly Rowland was here, we also did the opening for Kanye West and Akon, as well as the Millions of Milkshakes opening."

Hayes has now been teaching street jazz for more than two years. She began her professional training at 17 with a focus on ballet, contemporary dance and jazz. After graduating, she moved to Dubai and immediately took dance lessons with Kamte, who instilled in her the belief that training is an essential part of what makes a dancer better.

"I have a dancer who was accepted into Juilliard, another has just won one of the biggest competitions in London called DanceX and another is head of dance at Princeton University," Kamte said. "So it's great to see the company being represented internationally, after training in a little city called Dubai."


Ÿ The Sharmila Dance Gala is on Wednesday and Thursday at the Centrepoint Theatre, Ductac, Mall of the Emirates, Dubai. For more information, visit www.sharmiladance.com