Nikita Thakrar

My name is Nikita Thakrar. I was born in Slough, Berkshire. And my family are from here, originally from India. My father is an accountant and my mother is a nurse. So I come from quite an academic family. Quite a professional family. So when I first decided I wanted to go into dancing, instead of going to university, it was quite a shock for my family. But they did accept it and they supported me and they let me go off to India to do my training as opposed to going to university.

When I came back from six months of training in India I decided that that was what I definitely wanted to do and that I wanted to become a professional dancer. So from then on, I kept working towards it. I kept going back to India to further my training and started training from a classical Indian guru over here in Kathak dance.

People had found out that I had been to India and that I had been training and I got asked to dance in an event in Scotland. And they asked me for a group of dancers. And they had, they wanted a half an hour performance. I couldn’t believe it. The event was only about a month away and I didn’t think I’d be able to do it but I did. I auditioned and I got loads of dancers together. I choreographed the piece. I put it all together. We flew off to Scotland and that was the first event that I did and that’s was a really successful event. And very memorable as well.

My first job as a teacher again is funny ‘cause one of my very good friends… she came to me and she asked me to teach her daughter. Her daughter was only four at that. To train a four year old one to one is very challenging. But I did it and that girl’s turned out very well now. She does a lot of performances and from there I started training other students, and other kids and other age groups. And I now run a dance academy and company which trains over 200 students and I still regularly perform myself.

A lot of people over here and even in India these days, are doing a lot of Western dance and I think people find it a little bit refreshing and authentic but I do very Indian dance. Sometimes I see Bollywood films today and I’m confused as to what the source is. Where it’s actually coming from. Bollywood has been through a lot of phases. It used to take inspiration from cabaret and from… there was an era when it took it from Kathak as well, like the Moghul era. So they’ve taken inspiration from different forms whereas these days I, like I said, I get confused as to which forms they have taken the inspiration from because, just within one item, within one song, there’s so many different styles.

My style, personally, is very much based on classical Indian. As I’m trained in Kathak, I do focus on Kathak a lot. A lot of the source of all of my dance is taken from Kathak. Like I always train all the students when they come in and put their hands together and say ‘Namaste’ and then same at the end. So it’s not just dancing we’re teaching them. It’s also the values that we are implementing into their lives which a lot of these kids wouldn’t get otherwise. So, em, I think Bollywood is fantastic because it brings you closer to the Indian culture. Not just when I train but also when I perform. When I go out to corporate events or when I do my own stage productions. The compliments that we get afterwards are that people really were entertained and they felt really close to India which, for me, seems like a bit funny because obviously because I’ve been to India so much and I know that there’s much purer India than just Bombay and Bollywood. But I think it’s excellent for them because they find the music so uplifting, obviously the costumes are colourful, it’s all so glamourous that I think that that does make them more aware of India and it does open their mind a bit so I think Bollywood is really very good for everybody living in this country especially.