x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Variety is the spice of Sharmila Dance Gala

The second Sharmila Dance Gala will feature local talents alongside principal dancers from Germany's prestigious Stuttgart Ballet and stars from the US version of the hit show So You Think You Can Dance

Sharmila Kamte, the choreographer, founder and director of Sharmila Dance Gala, has funded the event herself. Razan Alzayani / The National
Sharmila Kamte, the choreographer, founder and director of Sharmila Dance Gala, has funded the event herself. Razan Alzayani / The National

From classic and dramatic love stories, the mesmerising movements of contemporary and jazz to funky hip-hop, Latin dance and dream sequences - expect the second Sharmila Dance Gala to be packed with a variety of physical art forms.

A dance story

"The show is fun because it does not focus on one particular style. It is for everyone to come and enjoy," says Sharmila Kamte, the founder of Sharmila Dance Company. "I also wanted local dancers to see and experience such amazing international talent performing alongside us."

The Colombia- and Dubai-based BNF Dance company will also be performing a tango and salsa piece, while Quinceno Arts from Dubai will showcase a futuristic routine inspired by contemporary and jazz forms.

Stuttgart Ballet's award-winning principal dancer Alicia Amatriain and her partner, the first soloist David Moore, will perform the pas de deux from Romeo and Juliet.

"We all know the story of Romeo and Juliet but this routine takes the romance to a new level," says Kamte. "Alicia is a very mature dancer who is at the peak of her career. She's one of the top ballerinas in the world and she more than dances - she always tells a story."

While Amatriain was on holiday in Dubai recently, she met with Kamte, who worked the gala schedule around Amatriain so she could be involved.

"It's going to be my first time dancing in Dubai and in Sharmila Dance Gala. I am really looking forward to this event. It will be a memorable event, I am sure of that," says Amatriain, who will also be dancing to a contemporary routine alongside Moore, titled Manomanca and described as an "abstract portrayal of an uneven affair". The piece has been created specially for the Dubai audience.

For Moore, it will be his second Sharmila Dance Gala performance. "The gala had a great mix of styles last year and I'm hoping to show the audience something they may not be used too," he says.

Global talent

Michelle Brooke and Jesus Solorio, who gained popularity on the reality television series So You Think You Can Dance, will perform one contemporary and one jazz routine. It will be the first time talent from the reality TV show will perform in the Middle East, says Kamte.

It will all start with Without You, the story of a soldier who comes back from war, only to find out that the love of his life has moved on. The second piece, I'll Take Care of You, follows two people hurt by other relationships who manage to find comfort in each other.

Brooke and Solorio say they are "excited" to be a part of such a "special" event.

"Along with the other talented dancers, we hope to share our passion and love of dance through our pieces and communicate the beauty and creativity that is performing arts," say the dancers in a joint statement. "Dance has been a part of our lives from a young age and it continues to be a source of expression and art for both of us. To be able to create and perform is a blessing and we are honoured to be able to share it across the world."

Increased interest

Since the first gala, attendance at dance classes at Sharmila Dance Company have grown by 30 to 40 per cent. The only challenge, however, remains in finding sponsorship and support for such local events. Kamte, for example, has had to fund the gala herself.

Her dancers will be taking part in a total of six numbers and Kamte herself will perform during the second half.

The first half will feature a contemporary piece about a disease spreading in New York, followed by a contemporary jazz routine which takes on a dark/happy dream sequence featuring an aerial performer, and a hip-hop and funk piece inspired by the circus.

The second half includes a dance with a flamenco flavour, exploring a love affair, a contemporary routine inspired by the classic tale of Snow White and another hip-hop "rough and tough" army warfare piece.

"If you look at the recent JLo performance in Dubai, you would notice her dancers are extremely diverse. In today's world, it's not enough to focus just on one particular dance style. Especially commercial dancers, who need to be able to do anything," says Kamte.


Sharmila Dance Gala starts tomorrow with shows at 2.30pm and 7.30pm and on Saturday at 7.30pm, at Ductac, Mall of the Emirates. Tickets cost between Dh155 and Dh200 and are available from Virgin Megastores, www.virginmegastore.me, and the Ductac box office. Visit www.sharmiladance.com for more information