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put your dancing shoes on with keshav thapa

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Dancing is fun. We can all agree to that. All of us have danced at some point in our lives. It might not be as good as we thought it was, but we did dance. But when we do think about dancing, we don’t think much about it. We dance to viral songs and copy the steps of the dancers dancing on it, but we rarely think of who came up with those dance steps.
Well, someone did. And that someone might pretty well be Mr. Keshav Thapa, who is a professional dance choreographer and trainer. We talked to him about his experience in this industry and his personal take on what it takes to be in this fraternity of just a handful of people. He is an example of making it in a difficult industry so read on to know about him, his past, and future endeavors.

HOW DID YOU FIND THAT THIS WAS YOUR CALLING?
The passion of dancing for me stemmed from just a hobby as there used to be a lot of extracurricular activities and I was involved in most of them. So, when there were events like parents day or annual days at the school the class used to participate for dancing. But, my teachers started telling me that I was a natural dancer as without any training I was dancing very well. So, I quickly gained the reputation of being a good dancer at school and around my hometown as well. I started participating in dance competitions after that and even won a few. I practiced daily because I loved dancing and it slowly transformed into a hobby, and to be my passion.
One story that I can remember is that there was a shooting going on and I might have been just 12 years old at the time but they invited me to be the backup dancer in a song. That was a fun experience for me.
After a few years, I shifted to Kathmandu where I tried my hand at being an assistant choreographer for a few movies and that was how it was going. After a while my cousins called me up from Manali to tell me about a dance competition that was happening there. The scope was much higher in India at the time so I went to try my luck. I sent my dance video for the competition, and my brother also sent the video to Calcutta Dance University. Consequently, I got the admission with a scholarship. What that made me realize was no matter how much you think you are a natural dancer, you need the technical knowledge to get better. I learned a lot of Latin dance forms, and that’s how I eventually found my style. I came back to Kathmandu and found a few people that were interested in dancing and training, and that’s how I started as a choreographer.

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HOW HAS THE CONCEPT OF DANCING CHANGED FROM HOW IT WAS IN THE PAST TO WHERE IT IS NOW?
Well dancing back then was just for fun. I still agree that that is the primary reason for dancing, it is the enjoyment and happiness that it brings. People used to say that professionally there is no scope in this field here and that was true. But my principle is that you have to create that space for dancers yourself. Whatever I have done till now, I would like to take credit for it myself because i did a lot of hard work to get here. Yes, there are a lot of loopholes still, but that means there is a reason to make it better and get rid of the problems. As you can see there are Salsa Nights at restaurants and people are coming in every day of it. That shows people are interested more than they were in the past.

WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN UPTO THESE DAYS?
So, after a while, I went into choreographing dance routines in movies. Bhuwan KC Sir asked me if I could do a Salsa choreography in one of his songs, and after that I have been busy with a few movie projects. I also was interested in Jumba, so I got the license to be an instructor, so I am also around helping people with their fitness goals. I also work for music videos and movies with the big names in the industry. Still, there are a lot of movies from reputed banners on the line for me. Right now, I am the official choreographer for the Miss Nepal Pageant and I am busy with that. I would also like to give credit to Shristi Shrestha who is a really good friend for mine. We used to dance together and she introduced me to the respective people for my current projects.

WHATEVER I HAVE DONE TILL NOW, I WOULD LIKE TO TAKE CREDIT FOR IT MYSELF BECAUSE I DID A LOT OF HARD WORK TO GET HERE. YES, THERE ARE A LOT OF LOOPHOLES STILL, BUT THAT MEANS THERE IS A REASON TO MAKE IT BETTER AND GET RID OF THE PROBLEMS.

HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE YOUR STYLE?

My preferred styles are Jazz and Contemporary as I have a lot of technical knowledge in that field.

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE A CHOREOGRAPHER?
Well, everyone has their own struggles in all the fields that you work in. Some might have a lower struggle period and some may have a longer one but both needs a lot of patience. I have seen people switch so easily if things don’t go according to their plan. It might take years of effort so if it really means a lot to you then you should stick with the hard work. And the most important aspect is not to be lazy and do your work. Also, you should always be open to criticism as it can be a very essential learning. Listen to your close ones, work on your technique and get a training yourself too as there will belots of things you might not know. It is a constant process of learning and growing, and just embrace it.

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YOU SHOULD ALWAYS BE OPEN TO CRITICISM AS IT CAN BE A VERY ESSENTIAL LEARNING. LISTEN TO YOUR CLOSE ONES, WORK ON YOUR TECHNIQUE AND GET A TRAINING YOURSELF TOO AS THERE WILL BE LOTS OF THINGS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW.

LOOKING BACK, HOW HAS YOUR EXPERIENCE BEEN OVER THE YEARS?

I am having fun, and that is nice. I have had the pleasure of working with a lot of celebrities among which they have turned to be close friends. Also, getting recognized for my work makes me proud of everything. But most of all, I am grateful for everyone in my life. I treasure the experience. However, I still have a lot of things to do and meet new people be a better trainer. I hope the luck and the support stays positive for me.

WHAT IS THERE FOR THE FUTURE?
Currently I am doing my thing, but I would love to give back to the community. So I am planning on doing an event which will focus on differently abled people where i could train them to dance and have a good time. Dancing is all about expressing yourself either as happy or sad. So giving a chance to those people at doing something they were told they can’t do would be a nice way to utilize my talents. I want to specialize in that sort of dancing techniques too. And if that goes well for everyone involved, I will do a regular dance class for them.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO GIVE SOME ADVICE TO ASPIRING DANCERS?
What I suggest is that you can’t learn something to its full extent. There are new techniques coming up so just be in sync with what is happening and keep up because if you don’t, you will start being invisible in the market. It is therapeutic and makes you fit at the same time, so there is a win-win there. I strongly believe in Karma, so do good things and be a nice person. And stay humble and have patience. That’s all.

INTERVIEWED BY: SHREEYA SANGROULA | PHOTOS: GAURAV XHOMPATE SUNUWAR

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