Visha Taylor

My name is Visha Taylor and I’m twenty-three. I was born here. I’m Gujerati. I started off with Bollywood. That was just my love for the music. I grew up in a house where somebody’s radio was always playing and I just used to jump up and down and follow the, you know, follow whatever moves I would see from the films. So I think that’s how I got into it and my mum just said, right that’s it, we’ll send you off to classes because that’s what you like doing. Well, I started when I was probably five, six. Then I moved on to do some Bharata Natyam. So I’ve done Bharata Natyam for ten years. And now I’m doing Kathak on top of that as well. So I’ve been doing that for three years now.

My first Bollywood teacher was Satish Shah. And he’s still my Bollywood teacher many years on. I enjoyed his style more than anything. The, you know, the way we got to do folk, and different types of folk. We would do more Rajasthani, Garba, Dandiya, you know, Tippani, you’d have Manipuri dancing… all these different kinds of things with all the lovely costumes, so, and that’s where my enthusiasm really came from, for him. At first, with Satish bhai, he drilled into us this thing of stretch, smile, sing and that’s always been with me. And I’ve always been able to carry it through my classical dance. As you know, Bharata Natyam, you know, you need your precise lines and my Bollywood dance and the folk dance has always helped me in that. Bharata Natyam has helped me with things like expression and bringing that out and not being so shy. Helped with the mudras and using a variety of hand gestures that you wouldn’t use otherwise. And then with Kathak now I find that I spin more and you have a different kind of grace in the dance.

You just dance with your heart I find when I’m doing Bollywood dance. You just do whatever comes to mind.

Classical dancing is a passion of mine and because it requires, you know, there’s precision, and the skills and all the angles and the lines… I find it something I can work at and it’s a challenge. I find it more of a challenge but it’s one that I enjoy doing at the same time. And when you start doing the Abhinaya pieces with the expressions and telling the stories, you know, you can start to let yourself go when you do all those. So it’s different to Bollywood in that way.

Bollywood very popular. Very very popular. It’s a shame that the classical styles aren’t being seen as much and that. You see it taken off Bollywood films which are very modern, very much like how you would see in Western music films. And, you know, it’s sad that you lose a little bit of the culture that we use to have in the old films, you know, the way they use to dance then. That’s the kind of dance that I like. The type of Bollywood dance that I like.

I teach at university. We have a big Hindu society there. And I teach them a variety of, like, Bollywood. And I try and bring in the classical influences as well. And then we have our annual performances… em… at London theatres, either at the Bloomsbury Theatre or this year, at the London Palladium. So I choreograph for that. And I teach, you know, like twelve girls at a time if not more for my one dance… so I enjoy teaching. And I’m hoping with Satish bhai I get, you know, the opportunity to carry that on.

I like different elements from all the different types of Indian styles I have done. Obviously there are many of the Western styles I find beautiful. Things like… I love flamenco, I love the fluency of it. Very flamboyant. With that, salsa… I use a bit of everything because I’m not always doing strictly classical dancing because you need the classical dancers for it and it’s difficult to teach when you haven’t… when they don’t have the experience. I go with the music. You know, sometimes you’ll hear a Bollywood song and you think, ooh, a little bit of salsa there, a bit of flamenco there, and sometimes you’ll hear a classical beat in it and you think, OK, this will go really good there. So, I go with the flow mainly and I just think, this will be really good here, this will be good here.

So I mix it up so I put a bit of, you know, the Bharata Natyam mudras, then Kathak spins, and then, you know, the hip movements from Bollywood. All that kind of stuff. So… I think that’s why people enjoy it and they like to think, oh, I want to try a bit of Bharata Natyam now, so, that’s how I like to do it.