Monica Dogra, ballerina friend Cindy Jourdain relive learning to dance again
Monica Dogra and new friend, ballerina Cindy Jourdain, relive the experience of learning to dance, and dancing again respectively, for the singer's new video
Monica Dogra and Cindy Jourdain's easy rapport is for all to see. We are sitting at Bandra's Le Folie on a cloudy Wednesday, and Dogra is telling us about how she got her nose pierced. "So, I was dating a boy at the time, and we were lying in bed, and he suddenly said, 'oh, your nose is so big'. I was like, whaat! Later, I was walking down the road, and saw a tattoo parlour and walked inside. The guy there also had a big nose. It was a sign. So, I got my nose pierced as proof of self-love. Here! I will show off my nose even more!" she laughs. Jourdain is remembering how the two of them met and smiles fondly, "I think she came for a class and then we went out to have coconut water. Since then, we have been around each other."
The relationship has now translated into them working together on Spell, Dogra's new music video, which is a collaboration of sorts between the ballerina-turned-fitness expert. The Shaa'ir and Func singer has been flying solo for a while, and is riding high on the success of her version of Abida Parveen's Naraye Mastana. She released Spell last week, which says something about her wanting to try new things, whether musically or visually. "The song is about meeting someone who loves the person that you are. And it looks at what went into making you this person. There could have been a phase of darkness and ugly experiences that brought you to that point. It's about living your dream, burning and bleeding to arrive at being who you are. Nobody will know what went into getting there. It's about people seeing that trajectory," she explains.
The video, which has Monica dance to what can be described as free style-meets-modern-dance-meets-ballet, has been choreographed by Jourdain. Shot in an under-construction building, it shows Dogra manage impressive floor work and ballet moves, dressed in a nude high-waist bikini and a white crop. The singer trained under Jourdain for a month before she shot the video earlier this year. Dogra was put through the rigour of barre work and spine opening exercises. "Cindy, you know, can do anything. Her leg goes here and there. I can't do that. I have limitations. I used to rehearse with her for three hours and then go to the gym for another two, and then complain, 'why don't I have the best body yet?' But, the good thing is that she knows my body. She is also very strict," says Dogra.
Jourdain would insist that Dogra dance in her own style, just so that she could figure how she was interpreting the song. "We struck a compromise between what my body could do and what she'd like me to," adds Dogra. Cindy is listening intently and nods along, "For me, movement is always music led, not necessarily lyrics led. I knew the story [behind the video] so I had already prepped. We went into the studio and heard the song once, then again, then thrice, and what you see emerged organically. It was about becoming more conscious of where I wanted her to go. Monica's chief challenge was to open her spine, make herself flexible. You only get aware that it needs to done when you start moving your body through different planes."
Jourdain, who Dogra says thanked her for making her dance again, says the singer reminded her of her older life. "For Spell, even though Monica had a underlying story, I wanted to create a choreography that was true to the moment. Who was Monica back when we were filming, what was going in her life, and what was I feeling?" For now, they are waiting for the verdict on Spell. Dogra is candid about the struggle of being an indie musician not signed with a label. "You do everything yourself. I am lucky that I have great friends who have helped me. But it's still hard to do the kind of music you want to. There is a purity in the struggle, that gets diluted by success, and sometimes you just have to say, that you are not doing this for the money or the recognition. The process of making it was enough for all of us. Now let's see what the audience says."
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A walk through Mohammed Ali Road's Khau Galli