America's Got Talent Season 15: Indian salsa duo, Bad Salsa, talks about qualifying for the second round of auditions
Two Indian dancers have made quite an impact on the judges of America's Got Talent Season 15. The 20-year-old Sumanth Maroju and 15-year-old Sonali Majumder, popularly known as Bad Salsa, have cleared round one of the auditions. The duo had won India's Got Talent Season 4 in 2012. Now they are waiting for round two of the auditions which will be conducted online. The show is currently streaming on Voot Select and will exclusively be on air on Colors Infinity. The talented young dancers are hoping to make way ahead on the show, here are excerpts from an interview:
How different does it feel to perform in one of the biggest talents shows of the world?
Sumanth: We feel very blessed and honoured to be able to perform on the grand stage of AGT. We always dreamt of performing on big stages like this since we started dancing. The feeling was different this time as we were representing India.
Sonali: It was a huge responsibility for us to provide great performance. At the same time, we feel very lucky to have gotten this huge opportunity of being a part of one of the greatest dance shows of all time. The auditorium was filled with a lively audience and a great panel of the most accomplished judges. It was surely one of the greatest days of our life.
How did you bag this opportunity?
Sumanth: The producers of AGT ran by some of our past performances and got in touch with us through email. We were in conversation with them and then proceeded to take part in the competition. It was a dream come true to have been presented with such a big opportunity.
How did you train for the show? What were the criteria that you were looking at?
Sumanth: We are rehearsing for nearly 10 hours a day which includes about 2 hours of workout, yoga, meditation, and exercise with intense training. There have been changes in our diet and our resting hours are scheduled as well.
Sonali: We are working extremely hard to be at our best and perform at our peak level. We always aim to keep the bar high and seek a raising graph of our performances. Our main focus is to ensure that our performance of the day is better than yesterday. Competing with ourselves makes us more confident and we are then sure, of delivering a performance worth watching
How was the AGT backstage experience?
Sumanth: During our backstage rehearsals, everybody around used to encourage us by clapping and appreciating our performances whenever we practised. The crew members and the workers over there were very generous and helpful. In fact, our fellow participants also cheered for us during rehearsals and made us feel very confident. Many would come to Bivash sir and appreciate him for his choreography and bringing us to AGT.
What kind of feedback did you receive from the judges?
Sonali: The judges were always kind and sweet to us right from the beginning. When our audition began, they were excited for us to perform and we could feel that. Their response will always be one of the greatest moments of our lives. Simon sir said that because of people like us they had a show, it meant everything to us. We were overwhelmed by the positive response by all the judges.
Who is your favourite judge and why?
Sumanth: Our favourite judge would be Simon sir as he has been on the show since the very beginning and has been supporting a lot of talent. He is the toughest to impress and we love challenges.
Any memorable anecdotes - something funny and something emotional?
Sonali: The moment we introduced ourselves and mentioned that we are from Kolkata, the response from the audience took us by surprise. There were many Indians in the crowd who kept on cheering for us throughout our whole act and time on stage. We were emotional and felt a sense of belonging as after our act, we received a standing applause from the audience and judges. It felt very good.
How has this experience changed you as an artiste and as a person?
Sumanth: We used to believe that performing in other countries would be rather different than performing here in India. After performing on renowned stages across the world we realized that the only factor that matters is talent. Irrespective of where one comes from, what they do or who they are if one showcases their talent in the right way, the world will admire them and fall in love with their art. As artists, we always aim for the betterment and preservation of our vision and want our journey to inspire millions across the world.
How did your mentor react to your performance and what was the reaction of your families?
Sonali: Bivash sir has mentored us right from the beginning, his vision and craft have led us to the grand stage of AGT. We have utmost faith in him and perform as taught by him. He was the most excited when the opportunity of taking part at AGT came to us and his hard work and belief gave us the ability to flourish on the big stage, our performance got him delighted and he was even happier when he heard the judges praise us. Our families were very proud of us and our performance made them emotional, they have always been supportive throughout our journey and we're so glad that we made it to the biggest stage of them all.
What next for you two?
Sonali: We wish to perform on every possible stage across over the world and represent India by showcasing salsa in a never seen before avatar. It is our aspiration to be International dancing stars and to inspire people to take up their long passion of pursuing dance. We come from a background where situations were not easy to overcome, we did not have the resources and exposure to reach this far yet we broke barriers and never gave up.
Sumanth: We feel there are a lot of people who do not have the right kind of exposure to showcase their talent and we want to be able to reach out to them. Bivash Sir owns a gurukul where students from different parts of India arrive, stay, and learn the art of dance. Out here, we wish to assemble those talented people who need exposure and train them to their best, so they too have a chance at pursuing their dreams