Popular choreographer Terence Lewis has been been known for his focus on contemporary dance. He has also delved into reality TV and is now a well-known personality and a much sought after dancing talent.
Lewis was recently in London and BizAsiaLive.com caught up with him.
You’ve been in London recently. What brings you here?
I have been teaching in Europe for a very long time at various festival predominantly at Impulstanz festival in Vienna and every year I teach there, it’s my 15th year of teaching. It’s a contemporary dance festival, since I am in Europe and I don’t want to lose on the opportunity of stepping into London before I head back to Mumbai to meet my friends. I have some family people here and who doesn’t love the vibe of London especially in summers, I am here to meet some friends, some business people whom I have been in contact for a few years and experience the vibe of the city
What do you most enjoy about the British capital?
The joy about London is the fact that it’s so multi-cultural, so dynamic. It’s so much like New York but in a very different way, but has a more culture here. In a way I feel very happy in a multi-cultural space because that’s what I feel having travelled all over the world and having being influenced by so many thoughts and ideas. I feel that I am the citizen of the world and what better place to live and experience the multi-language, community, and culture than London itself. London is like the melting pot of all cultures, be it Asian, European, you will find a mix of everybody here but most importantly, you will find a great mix of people from art, science, philosophy, name it and you have it. They have an amazing vibe about the city, that’s what makes London so beautiful, so different and so alive. London is for everybody.
Throughout your career, you’ve had the opportunities to do different types of choreography – including music videos, broadway shows, corporate events. Which do you feel you are most comfortable in?
I enjoy all kinds of creative work as long as it’s very creative, out of the box and challenging that really intrigues me. Something which is a creative process that really intrigues me that immediately gets me into the creative process. I really can’t pin point at one thing but I really enjoy music videos to films to television shows where I judge and I find that extremely satisfying, motivate, encourage and critically acclaimed. Judging is mentorship for me where I can judge and mentor these kids who are so talented and want to grow into their highest professional. I have been a teacher all my life and this comes to me very naturally, judging is another aspect of being a teacher and constantly notice your students and guide them to their highest professional. I really enjoy the process of judging and being a part of that process, I really enjoy the process of choreography from time to time when it comes to my company, I love performing that has always been my thing, that’s why till date I make sure that I am performing at various stages, be it at biggest corporates and sometimes at weddings too. At some weddings, I do my entire sets, gigs and have got lots of dance from various parts of the world which was converted into the Bollywood tracks. It makes it kind of different and special and I love interacting with people, I love being on stage. I always love interacting with my audience and I really really enjoy being on stage too.
What do you appreciate the most about judging a reality TV show?
Absolutely love about judging reality shows is that there is only one take and you are seeing it live. More importantly you’re seeing it for the first time and you have to be astute in your judgement as to how do you evaluate that performance, it’s so exciting in a way. What’s interesting is that there is nothing unlike forms and unlike other places where everything is broken down into such small fragments. In a way you need to enjoy the choreography live in one go whereas in dance reality shows irrespective of the performance being good, bad or ugly, it’s one take and 15-18 cameras capturing it and they are all editing it then and there and that’s what comes to you few days later on television. It’s just the idea of watching and experiencing something live just a few metres away, it’s just super exciting. That’s what keeps me on my toes which I have to evaluate and be astute in my judgement and I also have to be the mentor for them where they can grow into their highest professional. I really enjoy judging so much more than anything else, of course I love performing but can’t decide which one is more interesting
You’ve choreographed some huge films too. Where do you usually start when beginning to conceptualise the choreography?
We need to understand the director and what he wants to convey in that song, what is the artist doing and what is the character of the artist and what is the graph they are at in the film, that’s very important to understand and from that perspective where you also see the limitations and the strengths of the artists and figure out what can they do and they can’t. Also, to look at the song, the mood, the location, outdoor, indoor, location, all of these are the factors to put it in the kind of choreography before you start conceptualising. Once you listen to music there is a certain kind of rhythm and sense of gut feeling as where it would go but at the same time you have to keep in mind the parameters to make sure that on the set you are completely prepared. Your shot is completely done beat per beat, how to edit and it’s also very important to know how to edit the song, visually as a choreographer you should know the edit by heart so that ‘s what it takes to choreograph a song.
In terms of your personal choice, what form of dance do you enjoy watching and doing?
I really don’t have any personal choices when it comes to dance, dance is something which I thoroughly enjoy and anybody who does any style, of course what comes naturally to me is contemporary it’s so organic and has a certain emotion attached to it. It’s very close to what nature is and movement, its so great to watch somebody do contemporary dance and move in a way of certain skills. All forms are dance are beautiful, I enjoy Hip Hop, Latin, Bhangda anybody who dances really well, I am their bhakt and I could watch them for hours. For me, there is no particular style but of course my strength lies in contemporary and kathak as it’s so beautiful and graceful. At the same time, I really really love Chavv, Mayur Bhanchavv is my favourite dancer, I keep learning and I am a student of dance therefore, currently I am training in Bachata and katthak because I want to enjoy what dance is all about, i really don’t have any special favourites so anything which I see and watch is done with beauty has a certain skill and has a certain kind of appeal for it. I am ready to kind of absorb, learn and appeal to it
What would you say is the most memorable moment of your career?
There is not one memorable moment, there are many when I started my career and dance on stage for the first time, that was the most important moment and I was 13 and got a job when I was very young and performed for a new year dance. It was just a jazz choreography but felt great because my teacher selected me and it felt good. From there on, I started my entire school of __, that was a big moment for me and when I got my scholarship at the ___ dance festival where I teach right now is one of the biggest moments and of course Dance India Dance gave me the fame and choreographing the second season for Shakti and Raghav and the first season, I had Alisha, Mayuresh and Jay where all of them are the interesting moments in my career and my life. There is not one, there are many!
What do you have coming up?
Well, I have been approached to do many films as an actor and I have an inclination towards being an actor as I have always been in theatre and my first stint was in theatre more than dancing but unfortunately at that time I didn’t get paid well and I did not have a godfather and did something which was naturally and that was dance. But having said that, I have many more opportunities to get into theatre and acting and I wrote a script for myself because I thought that would be the best way to project myself as an actor that would use my talent as a professional and an actor. It’s a beautiful film which I have written and I am looking for producers to produce it. Fingers crossed, something will come up soon.
BizAsiaLive.com thanks Terence Lewis for talking to us.