In an exclusive tete-a-tete with hitlist, dancer Jaja Vankova, known for her role in 'Step Up All', tells us about her plans for an upcoming dance reality show called 'Bindaas Naach', her first visit to India, and her future plans
The green-eyed damsel, Jaja Vanková, who more than proved her mettle as a dancer when she hypnotized the judges with her robotic dance moves on 'So You Think You Can Dance', is all set to win hearts in India. The dancer has been roped in for a show called 'Bindaas Naach' that is Disney’s ABCD franchise show. Jaja will be seen on the show for a few episodes as a mentor of the dance troupe formed by Shantanu Maheshwari, Macedon Dmello and Nimit Kotian, who will participate in an international dance championship to represent India for the first time. Excerpts:
Jaja Vankova. Pic/ Ashish Rane
Q. This is your first time in India. What are you looking forward to in the city?
A. Oh I’m so excited! I don’t really have anything specific in mind but I’m looking forward to seeing all the beaches and also the architecture. I want to learn more about the life in this city.
Shantanu Maheshwari, Macedon Dmello and Nimit Kotian who will be trained by Jaja Vankova
Q. You’ve made quite a niche for yourself in robotic dancing which isn’t a very conventional, mainstream dance form. How receptive do you think people will be towards it?
A. I faced a lot of bias when I started off. A lot of people were surprised that a woman was trying to make a mark for herself in this particular style. Having said that, dance really has the odd ability to reach out, so, while I understand the nuances of dancing here, I’m sure people will enjoy what I have to bring to the table too. The dance community is coming together really well and it doesn’t matter where you come from or how different you are; there is a lot of support.
Q. Tell us something about 'Bindaas Naach' and what you have in mind as far as training the dancers in concerned.
A. Well, I’m going to be mentoring and teaching three boys who are pursuing their dream of becoming professional dancers. Later, I’m also going to be mentoring a whole crew of dancers who will further go to compete in an international dance competition. I want to train them in some of my styles and I also want to understand what they are good at because it’s important for them to be themselves. At the same time, the training will be rigorous enough to teach them how to be versatile; it’s a little bit of everything.
Q. Are you acquainted with any of the Bollywood forms of dancing?
A. Yes, I’ve seen a couple of Bollywood performances. I don’t really know the technicalities of it but I’ve heard a lot about Bollywood movies and seen a lot of music videos and they seem fun and colourful. But all the elements put together are very different from the styles that I do which is street and hip-hop.
Q. How is this show different from the many other dance reality shows?
A. Well, the show isn’t really as much about the dancers, but more about their journey, and that is where I come in to guide them and steer them in the right direction. The concept is quite interesting because you know what you’re starting out with which is point A, and you know where you want to get which is point Z, but how to get there is the challenge. It’s on the go and that’s the fun part about it.
Q. From being the robot girl in 'Step Up All' to being apart of the troupe I aMme, that won season 6 of American best dance crew, looks like you’ve had an exciting journey. How has it been and where do you intend to go from here?
A. It’s been quite a roller coaster ride. I started dancing when I was ten years old and I took it up seriously and professionally when I was fifteen. The first time I got trained in America was at the age of sixteen and post that I was chosen to be part of IaMme crew for which I moved base entirely to the States at the age of eighteen. After that we started to travel and teach and do shows with the rest of my crew. Right now I’m at a point of my career where I want to pursue my career as a solo dancer which is why the movie Step Up All helped me a lot. If I could choreograph for a dance movie, it will be a dream come true, and I would love to act in more movies too because I feel like dance and acting are very closely connected so I have an advantage there. I also have two big projects coming up, one of which has something to do
with So You Think You Can Dance, so watch out!