Shakti Mohan: I don't think dancers are judged on the basis of their body
Shakti Mohan addresses mid-day readers' questions on dance and fitness
Do you actively take to an exercise routine, or does dancing enable you to achieve your fitness goals?
I actively practice yoga and meditation, and that's how I begin the day. Being physically active, via cycling, walking, running, or conditional exercises is something that makes me happy, [and helps me] physically, and mentally.
How can dancers train themselves to be flexible?
Stretches must be practiced with patience and consistency. Dancers often feel that flexibility is crucial to pull off certain movements on stage. But the importance [given to flexibility] is overrated. Choreography looks fantastic when you are flexible, but other factors, like developing strength and endurance, are crucial in equal measure.
As an insider in Bollywood, can you shed light on whether an overweight dancer/aspiring choreographer finds enough opportunities in Bollywood?
I don't think dancers are judged on the basis of their body. Yes, certain shows have certain requirements. The perception is that if you have long and slim limbs, your movements look beautiful. But, people across the world with different body types have busted these myths. Misty Copland [American ballerina] is an example of that, and showed that despite being shorter and more muscular than regular ballerinas, [she] could still [achieve her dream]. Bollywood accepts talented people. There is less [focus] on size, shape, and colour [today]. Also, choreographers need not have a particular body type.
Also read: Shakti Mohan On Working With Ranbir Kapoor In Shamshera: God Is Kind To Me That My Wishes Come True
Which diet trends are most popular among your group of dancer-friends, like Salman Yusuf Khan, and Dharmesh Yelande?
I have realised that if you eat something with love, and enjoy it, your body accepts it. If you constantly [scrutinise the quantity] of protein or calories being consumed, I don't know how your body will accept it. [A few of us] were in Goa recently and Salman had to shoot without his shirt. He didn't even consume water that day. I was sharing screen-space with him, and was still eating parathas. So, people's diets change as their routines change.
How do the three Mohan sisters influence each other's fitness journey? Do you all train together?
Sometimes we do, especially Mukti and me. We are quick to tell each other if any one of us has gained or lost weight. When you are always in front of people, via social media, or otherwise, you need to stay fit at all times. We no longer wait for a show or shoot to get back into great shape. Our wellness routine is always on track.
Which fitness routine do dancers benefit from the most?
There are many routines that dancers can benefit from but the most effective is pilates. It seems simple, but to hold a position and work on the smaller muscles, is difficult. I can manage weight-lifting in the gym, but pilates kills me. Yoga does so too, because you must constantly be stable, and focus on your breath. I would also like to address mental fitness here. We need to [attend to it] on a daily basis. We are not trained to address it, but are gradually learning about it. Yoga aids in attending to that as well.
What is the most common misconception you have heard about fitness for dancers?
That if you are fat, you can't dance.
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