The Salsa Twins bring their act to the Abu Dhabi International Dance Festival
They’re lean, mean, dancing machines and they’re in the capital for the Abu Dhabi International Dance Festival that runs from January 9-11.
The Salsa Twins – the Indian, Cyprus-based brothers Deepak and Rahul Stephen – will take the stage on Saturday. Also trained in hip-hop, Greek dancing, kalaripayattu (an ancient form of Indian martial art), and Bollywood-style dance, the duo have a long list of credits to their names: they were semi-finalists on the television show Greece Got Talent and have won several dance competitions in India.
In 2012, the 27-year-olds performed at Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee celebration in London and participated in the London Olympic torch-lighting ceremony when it passed through Manchester. They’ve taken their act to more than 20 countries, including France, Spain, Italy, the UK, Turkey and Germany.
Their obsession with dance started when they were 3.
“When our mother first began taking us to dance school, we were too little to follow the steps,” says Deepak. “But we grew up watching and learning. We are big fans of Michael Jackson, the Indian dancer Prabhu Deva and also James Brown and Patrick Swayze.”
Members of the UK’s International Dance Teachers Association (IDTA), the brothers moonlight as teachers at Shakallis Dance School in Cyprus. By day, Deepak is a manager for a British IT company and Rahul works as an assistant financial analyst.
Brothers in arms
How does being twins affect their choreography?
“Being twins is a big part of our routine,” says Rahul. “I think I am blessed to have a brother who has the same abilities and passion. In the past, we worked with many other artists, but our connection as twins has worked way better for us. We have different personalities and different ideas – I am laid-back, Deepak is emphatic – but we always manage to find a balance. We compete for new ideas and steps and also motivate each other.”
Their dance journey continued when they moved to Cyprus in 2007 – they relocated because “we were looking to study abroad and were offered a scholarship at the university here”. Cyprus is also where they discovered salsa.
“At the Cyprus Salsa Congress, people danced the whole night and we just watched them and fell in love with the dance,” explains Deepak.
After that experience, they decided to learn salsa and soon got noticed. “We did a Bollywood-salsa routine with a bit of comedy at the fifth Cyprus Salsa Congress,” says Rahul.
The UAE connection
“We were here in 2013 for the Abu Dhabi dance festival, but only to conduct workshops,” says Deepak. “This year, we get to perform. We have always been very well connected with the salsa scene here – the artists, dance schools etc. The organisers of the festival, Joe Hanna and Moe Flava, have known us since 2008.”
Their performance in the UAE this weekend is special, Deepak claims, because it’s the first time their mother will watch them doing a salsa routine.
“The last time she saw us live was 10 years ago,” he says. “My relatives in the UAE will also be there this year to support us. We are performing two shows: the routine we did on Greece Got Talent and African Kuduro – a Bollywood and Afro-rumba mix with salsa. We are looking forward to entertain, meet friends and make new friends.”
• The Salsa Twins perform at the Abu Dhabi International Dance Festival on January 11 at Aloft Abu Dhabi. Visit www.adidf.com for the full programme and ticket information
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