Choreographer Shazeb Sheikh speaks about what dance means to him and his journey to stardom
Creative freedom and creative space are two absolutes that drive me. I would, any day, trade pressure for excitement Shazeb Sheikh, dancerchoreographer
Out of boredom stems his creativity, says social media star and dancer-choreographer Shazeb Sheikh, who was in town for a two-day workshop recently. In a chat with CE, he opens up about his rather free and fun career that revolves around practising and teaching dance.
The young choreographer seems to be a Bollywood favourite, shaking a leg with young celebrities — from Ananya Pandey to Fatima Sana Sheikh — helping hone their talent. However, Shazeb never knew or aimed at choreographing the biggies of Bollywood.
“It was until I was 20-22 years old that I looked at dancing as a potential career. All my life, I only considered it as something I did in my free time. Slowly, I looked ways to just dance more because I enjoyed it, eventually making a career out of it,” he says.
He never went to a dance school nor had friends he would dance with regularly. “I went around looking for cool places to dance at during my free time and never stuck long at a single place,” he shares, adding that dance happened at a time when he had to figure out life by looking for ways to earn more by writing and compering. “I slowly realised that I wanted to earn more money just so that I could get more time to dance in peace.” Shazeb says he never even knew that he was exceptionally good at what he does, until one day the founder of his work place, Tangerine Art Studio in Mumbai, offered him a job. “That was the f i r s t t i m e somebody appreciated my work to the point of offering a job. We slowly started recording our dance routines and putting them up,” he says.
Shazeb has the most tension-free career, he believes. “My work is pure joy, I don’t look at it as a job. I’m under pressure, which ensures that I’m a more efficient creator. In fact, it’s when I don’t have much to do, I end up creating some dance routine,” he says. Asked to share what his average day looks like he, he says, “I don’t do much, my idea of a good day is to have it as free as possible, spend some time with coffee and focus on only one thing at a time. Doing anything beyond that is concerning. I understood that this is how my mind and body work, and that’s how I like to keep it. Creative freedom and creative space are two absolutes that drive me. I would, any day, trade pressure for excitement.” When not busy creating a dance routine that goes viral instantly,
Shazeb can be found travelling the country, making new friends, learning interesting things from different cultures and trying different kinds of cuisines. He’s a huge fan of Hyderabad’s famous Dakhani, which he uses in his Instagram Stories. About how his work and fandom grew leaps and bounds in the past two years, thanks to the lockdowns, he says, “People were confined to the four walls of their home and that forced them to consume online content. I’m grateful that they thought my content was worth their time. The videos I made were low on production value and the dance form was raw. But, I was pleased to see how people took those routines and added their own grace, expression and flavour.” That said, Shazeb, who enjoys a massive fan following on Instagram, pays little attention to “these kind of growths”. “I feel they are temporary and I’m happy that it has not got to my head. At the end of the day, my ultimate dream is to see people dance more, than better,” he signs off.