By Priyanka Sharma
New Delhi, Feb 1 (IANS) Salsa, tango, B-Boying and hip-hop -- international dance forms have become household names and more people want to learn them thanks to a flood of dance reality shows on TV. What's more, these shows also provide a springboard to the glamorous world of showbiz for budding dancers.
While it all started with "Boogie Woogie" in 1995 on Sony TV, the small screen now has a long list of dance reality shows - "Jhalak Dikhla Ja", "Dance India Dance" (DID), "Chak Dhoom Dhoom" and "Nachle Ve".
Choreographer Rajeev Surthi, who has made stars like Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and Priyanka Chopra among others dance to his tunes, is a product of a dance reality show himself and says these shows indeed help aspiring dancers.
"People want to see hardcore dance today and these shows are indeed exposing them to that. These shows also provide a big platform to people who really want to make dance their profession," Surthi, who participated in reality show "Nach Baliye" season one, told IANS.
Apart from carving a niche for himself in Bollywood, Surthi is now judging Zee TV's "Dance India Dance Doubles".
"These shows are a great platform. And I can say that because I have been a part of reality shows myself. It was after 'Nach Baliye' that Farhan Akhtar offered me to choreograph Shah Rukh's Ganpati song in 'Don'," he said. Farhan was one of the judges on the show.
Choreographer Pony Verma, who judged the first season of children's dance reality show "Chak Dhoom Dhoom", says these shows have brought hidden talent from different parts of the country.
"Dance has become a household name now with people taking a keen interest in learning different dance forms. Moreover, it has largely helped tap the local talent which otherwise would have died a silent death," Verma told IANS.
The second season of the show, which is already on air, has teams from all age groups competing with one another. The judges panel includes Javed Jaffery, Terence Lewis and actress Urmila Matondkar.
Ashvini Yardi, programming head of Colors, says even middle-aged people are now keen on learning dance.
"During the auditions of the new season of 'Chak Dhoom Dhoom', a group of older women came to showcase their talent...With housewives showing keen interest in dancing, this shows that times are changing," Yardi said.
For 45-year-old Smita Singh, who considered herself a non-dancer, the show "Nachle Ve" helped her learn dance steps at home...and that with ace choreographer Saroj Khan teaching her.
"For people of our age it is difficult to go out and learn dance and with a show like 'Nachle Ve', one can learn dance at home...The way Saroj Khan teaches each step, one can easily pick up and perform," she said.
"I have learned so many steps that I can show off at a party or marriage," Smita said.
After "Boogie Woogie", which is the longest running Indian dance show, "Nach Baliye" came in 2005 on STAR Plus that saw celebrity couples showing off their impeccable dancing skills.
Sony's "Jhalak Dikhla Jaa", the Indian version of internationally popular "Dancing With The Stars", also has celebrities from diverse fields teaming up with choreographers and performing several dance forms.
First aired in 2006, the show is now in its fourth season and has dancing divas Madhuri Dixit and Malaika Arora Khan as judges apart from choreographer Remo D'Souza.
Besides Rajeev Surthi, these popular talent hunts have provided entry to aspiring dancers to the showbiz world. Salman Khan, the winner of first season of "Dance India Dance", got an opportunity to shake a leg with superstar Salman Khan in "Wanted" while another winner Shakti Mohan danced in "Tees Maar Khan".
Binny Yadav, also from DID, has landed a lead role in Zee TV's show "Sanjog Se Bani Sangini". Neil Bhatt of "12/24 Karol Bagh" and Neha Marda of "Balika Vadhu" have also previously participated in "Boogie Woogie".
(Priyanka Sharma can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)