New all-girl Mumbai crew wants to popularise the dance form of Jazz

Updated: Nov 23, 2016, 12:07 IST | Joanna Lobo

No one thought Svetana Kanwar would become a dancer. She wasn’t a natural, she didn’t have the petite, delicate build expected of dancers but was strong and tall, with a broad frame; she was always the last person to pick up choreographed steps

Svetana Kanwar
Svetana Kanwar

No one thought Svetana Kanwar would become a dancer. She wasn’t a natural, she didn’t have the petite, delicate build expected of dancers but was strong and tall, with a broad frame; she was always the last person to pick up choreographed steps. “At 18, when I announced that I wanted to give up my studies and pursue dancing full time, people were surprised,” says Kanwar, who looked at dance as therapy to help her through a rough patch in her life. “I’ve always been a stubborn person. Because I was told I couldn’t do it, I set out to prove people wrong.”

(Left to right) The BOM Squad comprises Sharvani Pandey, Svetana Kanwar, Virali Parekh, Arya Mehta, Hemanshi Choksi, and Roshini Nair
(Left to right) The BOM Squad comprises Sharvani Pandey, Svetana Kanwar, Virali Parekh, Arya Mehta, Hemanshi Choksi, and Roshini Nair

Today, the 27-year-old Kanwar teaches Jazz at the Big Dance Centre in Andheri after an eight-year stint with Ashley Lobo’s Danceworx. In June this year, she teamed up with five other dancers to start The BOM Squad — an all girls Jazz crew. Last week at a city festival, the group put up their first stage show in Bandra.

Smooth like Jazz
“Jazz isn’t a popular dance style here. It is based on strength and a lot of movement and is very sensual. We want to spread the popularity of this dance style and get more people interested in Jazz in all its forms, be it street, lyrical or funk,” she says.

The BOM Squad line-up includes Kanwar, Virali Parekh, Roshini Nair, Sharvani Pandey, Hemanshi Choksi, the newest member on the team, and the youngest, 16-year-old Arya Mehta; lastly, Natasha Shetty acts as a backup for the dancers. Most of them are Kanwar’s former students or friends. “When you talk about crew, everyone instantly imagines Hip-Hop or Contemporary dance. We want to break out of that thinking,” she says.

As of now, the group is focusing on practising and training. They’re also receiving a lot of offers to do videos; their most recent one was a spoof with digital channel TVF. They also make their own videos. One of the most popular ones is a dancer’s tribute to women, based on the Amitabh Bachchan poem Tu Chal from the movie Pink. “Our crew is made up of women with different personalities, upbringing, and family lives and yet, we make it work. We want to show people that women can be strong and sexy but can also have a fun, quirky side,” says Parekh, 25, who brainstormed with Kanwar back in May about forming a crew of dancers.

Practice makes perfect
Another important aspect that The BOM Squad wants to get across is the importance of training. “These days, everyone wants to attend a workshop and learn how to dance. And from there, move on to doing shoots or videos. But to dance, it is important to have regular practice and to keep training,” says Kanwar, adding that since they’re self-funded, their training is usually restricted to twice a week.

The group’s next gig will be at the Kala Ghoda Festival next year.

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