I don’t want to just be known as a Jhalak choreographer: Shampa Gopikrishna

By Staff Reporter, Toronto

She is a choreographer who has taken three celebrities to victory in Jhalak Dikhlaa Jaa. Daughter of the famous Kathak dancer and composer, Gopi Krishna, Shampa Gopikrishna is becoming a name to reckon with in the Bollywood choreography scenario.

“My Dad used to often joke that I have been dancing since I was in my mother’s womb,” says a candid Shampa. “However, it wasn’t until I graduated from college that I realised my passion and calling for dance, and that I wanted to take it up as a full time career.”

Born and raised in Mumbai, Shampa was exposed to the art of dance, right from childhood as her father was a very prominent Kathak exponent and choreographer.

“My father was my first guru”, she recalls. “However, he did send me to other dance classes, exposing me to various forms of Indian dance. My exposure to western dance came when I joined Terence (Lewis) two years after my college graduation.”

The choreographer has many popular Bollywood tunes to her credit – Pinga from Bajirao Mastani, Malang from Dhoom3 and Ang Laga De from Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela among others – and is most well-known as the choreographer behind the wins of Sushant Singh Rajput, Gurmeet Choudhary and most recent Ashish Sharma on the Indian version of Dancing with the Stars, Jhalak Dikhlaa Jaa.

“I have been lucky,” says Shampa, “that I got to choreograph all these excellent television actors on Jhalak. However, because of the fact that they were so good, I have always been under pressure to execute and present them at their best.

“But on the positive side, all these actors were extremely hard working, who would come completely energized for the rehearsals after a twelve hour work shift, give their best and were willing to work extremely hard. It also worked to my advantage that I didn’t need to work a lot on their expressions – how to act and react, which is also an integral part of dancing.”

A trained Kathak dancer, Shampa is well versed in Indian folk styles Chhau and Kalaripayatu and can perform aerial acrobats with ease.  She is visible in her absence in Season 8 of Jhalak. “Season 7 was my last year,” she quips. “I have decided to not be part of Jhalak any more because I want to move onto bigger things – international TV, Indian films as well as international films.”

Shampa is also the Indian choreographer in the Hollywood movie, Heartbeats directed by Duane Adler. She is the director of choreography on dancewithmadhuri.com, an online dance academy run by Madhuri Dixit.

“I don’t want to be known just as a Jhalak choreographer anymore. I want to do bigger things. I have recently done a Chinese film and the other, of course is Heartbeats, which has already released in the UAE and will be releasing in North America and India very soon. It is always better to aim big and dream big. When you shoot for the moon, you fall in the stars. I want to be bigger, better and do great things.”

Shampa Gopikrishna, along with Nishant Bhat will be conducting dance workshops in the GTA as part of Dance Diaries, an endeavour presented by Sanskriti Arts with Imagebuilderz as Media Partners. The workshops will take place on March 24 and 25 with the final performance on March 25 at the Maja Prentice Theatre, 3650 Dixie Road in Mississauga.  For more information visit http://www.dancediaries.ca.

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