29 Years
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Dance It Away!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

We love women who follow their dreams and make their passion their profession! Here Glynda Alves talks to Malou Meyenhofer, a professionally trained dancer from Switzerland who has been teaching Lindy Hop in India for over five years

When did you discover your love for dance?
I have always loved dancing. Growing up in Switzerland, I used to dream of being a ballerina. I danced in my dad's office, whenever my mom practiced playing the piano, in the garden, in the street — everywhere! There was only one other thing that I thought was as cool as being a dancer and that was being a trapeze artist. Consequently, I took all kinds of dance lessons ranging from ballet to jazz, performed in musicals and even took some dance classes as a pre-teen. Watching the movie Dirty Dancing about ten million times and having grown up on listening to my parents’ music, this genre of music and the wild expression of that particular dance appealed to me early on. It was clear to me that performing White Swan and being a ballerina wasn’t exactly going to be a part of my life. But, as a teenager, I danced to techo and rave music in clubs, then at live concerts and took Flamenco and contemporary dance classes. That’s when the dream of becoming a professional dancer became more of a reality.

When did you decide to make it your career?
I don't think there was one particular episode. There were several moments confirming my path. A few of these were when post dance school, my choreography routine was selected to be a part of the Solo Tanz Wettbewerb Stuttgart competition. Suddenly, I was in Germany, surrounded by other finalists from all over the world and some were double my age. I freaked out completely, but somehow, I managed to perform. Another highlight was being flown out to Bali (Indonesia) to teach Lindy Hop at a dance camp along with some of my favourite teachers. Yet another such moment was performing at the Opera of Zurich last year, on a massive stage and being able to have my family and friends come and see me at a nice venue like this.

Tell us about your time in India.
I have explored several different aspects of dance in India. I have promoted Tango and Lindy Hop, I have worked in the film industry, both as a dancer and choreographer. I have also choreographed and danced in live shows across the country, as well as weddings in the most outrageous places such as the Umaid Bhavan Place in Jodhpur. I have taught dance to adults as well as children. I have come to embrace Indian dance forms. I have started giving them the attention they deserve and now study them diligently.

You’ve been in Mumbai for five years — what do you love and hate about the city?
I have made beautiful friends here! I have come to love the culture, festivals, languages and food. I really, really love the people of Mumbai. There are challenges of course. Initially, I missed food from home a lot, but when I returned to Switzerland, I missed Indian food a lot! After a while it occurred to me that instead of always missing things, I should focus on enjoying the things that are around me. Now, I am much happier.

Which films do you like for their choreography?
One of the greatest dance sequences in Hollywood for me is the Broadway scene in Singing in the Rain, with Gene Kelly and Cyd Charrisse. Another one of my all time favorites is Eleanor Powell and Fred Astiare's Juke Box Dance and of course, my very own dance teacher Frankie Manning's Hellzapoppin. In India, there is just so many example of dance videos that I like. I am a big fan of Madhuri Dixit, Saroj Khan and Biriju Mahara’s work.

You teach Lindy Hop, which is not a very common dance form. Tell us why it's great!
It is a lot of fun. There is a freedom of expression to it that is hard to find in any other couple dance. The dancers dance together, as a couple, but are both completely free to express themselves through their own rhythm and movements. And the music instantly makes you happy.

Can I join a dance class even if I have two left feet?
Yes you can! The only reason you might hesitate from joining a dance class is fear and overcoming fear will make you extremely happy.

What does dance mean to you?
Dance, for me, is the rhythm of life.

Do you think Indians have a natural rhythm?
I find rhythm in people all over the world! What I have observed in India is that dance is a part of life. Whether it is bhangra, garba, or just dancing to Bollywood tunes, all of them have their own unique background and that makes it very easy to adjust to another form of dance.

What Indian dance forms do you like?
I am completely in love with Kathak and Lavni. I study Kathak with Guruji Sunayana Hazarilal from Natwari Academy of Dance and a dear friend who I have a very inspiring relationship with, Namrata Dilip Sawant, from Nrutyia Kala Kendra.

Favourite dance song: Apsara Aali, a Marathi Song.
Favourite dance: The one I do right now.
Which Bollywood actor/ actress do you think has the best moves: Madhuri Dixit!

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