As A child, Isabella Qureshi was exposed to the best dance and music. While her mother Antonia Minnecola is a Kathak dancer and choreographer, her father is the great tabla maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain Dance like Isabella Isabella's natural inclination was towards Western dance forms.
Dancer Isabella Qureshi
She grew up in Marin County, California, and at the age of three, started Ballet and movement classes. "My early inspirations were my mother, my Ballet instructor Jody White and, of course, Michael Jackson. When I was eight, I began serious training in Ballet, Modern, and Jazz, going to classes five or six days a week. In college, I was able to develop my knowledge of multiple modern dance techniques," she says.
Today, Isabella continues to nurture her passion as a dance teacher for youth and adults throughout the Bay Area. She will be making an appearance in Mumbai too, when she conducts a workshop called History and Development of Western Dance in America at the National Centre for the Performing Arts on January 30.
Isabella says the workshop's aim is to educate participants on the history of dance in America, focusing on the growth of contemporary dance starting from the 1930s onwards. There will be sections on Modern dance, Jazz, Hip-Hop, American television and Silver Screen dance. She elaborates: "I will take a chronological look at how these dance forms evolved, who the major choreographers and dancers were, and the differences in executing each technique."
Technique and flow
Last year, Isabella conducted workshops on Ballet technique, contemporary and Jazz dance at the Arts in Motion dance studio in Sion, Mumbai. Though her work in the US keeps her busy throughout the year, she hopes to do more workshops in India. Of the Indian styles, she has only followed Kathak, and has taken lessons from her mother Antonia and from the late Sitara Devi. She has also been studying Cuban Salsa in detail.
Asked about his daughter's progress in the field, Ustad Zakir Hussain says: "It is naturally a matter of pride that she is doing so well. I had told both my daughters, Anisa and Isabella, to do something creative, instead of taking up a nine to five job."
While Anisa has opted for video production and filmmaking, Isabella plunged into dance. On her sister, Isabella says: "We studied dance and piano at the same time, and she definitely has the talent for it. She is one of my biggest supporters."
Asked what talents Isabella specially possesses, Zakir says: "Being the grand-daughter of Ustad Allarakha, rhythm is in her blood. Hence, her sense of timing is very good, and that helps her improvise as a choreographer. Besides that, she has a very special suppleness and grace."
In 2003, Isabella and her parents collaborated on a piece called Riverborn, dedicated to Ustad Allarakha. "My father composed the music and performed it with us in London along with my uncle Taufiq Qureshi. I hope I have an opportunity to collaborate with my father more often," she says. Audiences in India will surely look forward to that.
On: January 30, 11 am onwards
At: NCPA, Nariman Point.
Email: email@example.com to register for workshop