Danseuse Shakti Mohan recalls her training in New York City and how she made the most of her stay in the Big Apple.
It has been my dream ever since I started dancing, to travel to New York and experience the dance culture there. So I planned out my schedule in order to do a summer course at the Broadway Dance Center, which is among the best schools in the world.
As it happens, just as I was about to leave, I received a call from an international television broadcaster to be a part of their documentary series called Collaboration Culture. It required that I work with a musician in New York and create a brand new piece of choreography to be showcased to the channel’s viewers globally. Since I was to work in New York for the project, I extended my dance training there for another three months.
I simply loved NYC during the time I lived there. It’s a global city and people were always so nice and polite! It is truly a melting pot of so many cultures. I noticed a lot of Japanese, Koreans, Chinese, Russians, Europeans, South Africans there. Each culture seemed to have its own restaurants and theatres. What’s more, New York seems to welcome people from every country and make itself comfortable for all.
During my stay in the city, I made sure I checked out the regular tourist attractions like Times Square, the Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty. I saw world-class Broadway acts such as Chicago, Nice Work If You Can Get It, Cirque du Soliel and Jubilee. I did a lot of exciting things like cycling all-day long in Manhattan, travelling by the subway and in sail boats — I had fun each day as though it was my last.
One very memorable part of my trip was performing in Central Park to support a cause in Vietnam. I had gone there cycling previously, a couple of times, but it was unique performing for an audience that was so diverse. However, the surface of the park was uneven and slippery, so it was challenging for all of us to execute the act. Yet, fortunately, all went well.
Another highlight of my stay in in the Big Apple was pairing up with an American string quartet at the Manhattan School of Music. I had tears in my eyes listening to them perform, even as I danced to their music. I cannot ever forget that feeling! I also learnt tap dancing for the first time there, tutoring under some of the best dancers and teachers.
Everything about that city pulls me back to it. The New Yorkers I met loved Indian culture and Bollywood — in fact I taught Bollywood basics to a lot of kids and people from different parts of the world. I miss walking endlessly on the streets — it’s really safe for women. I also tried some very zany dishes in gourmet cuisine thanks to my friends. Chipotle with its Mexican food became my favourite after a while. I had absolutely the best time of my life in New York City and would love to go back anytime.