Mumbai-based Lewis has carved an indisputable niche for himself as a choreographer through movies such as Lagaan, Naach, Shikhar, and O My God. He has trained superstars such as Madhuri Dixit, Abhishek Bachchan, Akshay Kumar, Salman Khan, Shahid Kapur, Urmila Matondkar, Antara Mali, Shilpa Shetty, Malaika Arora, and Celina Jaitley.
Lewis has won international acclaim as well, having choreographed for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in the U.K., namely the musicals Children of the Sea and Finding Marina, which featured civil war- and tsunami-affected children in Sri Lanka. The former went on to win “Best Musical” at the festival.
“I am looking forward to bringing Terence’s style and technique to California,” Reetu Patel, artistic director of MAD, says. “Terence will be touring the U.S. later this year, and this is the best opportunity to get training from the master himself.
“Each student will get personal attention, and a coffee chat time with Terence at the end of the workshop,” she says.
Patel met Lewis while in India in 2009, and training at his studio, she says, was a life-changing experience. No stranger to the limelight herself—having started a choreographic career at 13 in Mumbai and moving on to become a model and actor in TV soaps—Patel felt compelled to train with Lewis because she was mesmerized by his creative vision on “Dance India Dance.”
The name of her company, MAD—officially Me And Dance, unofficially evocative of the dancing sensation Madhuri Dixit—is evidence of Patel’s blazing enthusiasm for Bollywood and dance. She counts it as an achievement when a reluctant or under-confident child willingly enrolls in the school after the first trial class. Empathetic to the hardship dancers-in-training face, Patel financed four scholarships last year, with a dream to have a team of 10 scholarship students every year. MAD boasts 300 students across four Southern California locations: Irvine, Arcadia, Artesia, and San Diego; Patel is the sole instructor.
MAD’s first production, “Alice in Bollyland,” had each group of student-performers showcase at least two styles of Bollywood dancing. Patel believes that learning a pure-style first and then assimilating it into the Bollywood way is important, which is why she stresses on continuous learning with masters and at workshops. She keeps the creative spark going in herself by learning various folk styles and training with Feroz Khan, Jeetu Bhatt, and Terence Lewis.
MAD is currently auditioning for its second production, “Bollywood Broadway,” to be staged April 2011.
“Any Body Can Dance” workshop, Sept. 29-30, Orange County; Oct. 1-2, Los Angeles. For details, contact (909) 289-1203; firstname.lastname@example.org.