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Dancing Through Love

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Sunny Rodricks talks with Peeya Rai Choudhuri & Tino Sanchez about their love for dance, the story of the outlet for dance, the Omaggio Performing Company, that they started together and their performance ‘Jalika’

Peeya Rai Choudhuri and Tino Sanchez are not your regular couple with #RelationshipGoals attached to their profile; but their relationship is one that is lived out through their love for dance. “Dance was definitely what brought us together as we were meant to come together to form this wonderful project, which now affects so many lives in a positive way,” says the couple in tandem. From changing lives by training aspiring dancers to become high level international artists, to leaving a mark on the world map in live performances, they have lived by their motto of ‘Dance through thick and thin’. We caught up with the dancing duo to talk about their never-ending passion for dance, their journey as a couple and their vision for Omaggio Performing Company.

What inspired you to start the Omaggio Performing Company?

Omaggio, founded in Goa in 2013, is a unique performing company comprising of 10 Indian artists with a multitude of skills. Tino specialises in creating performances that blend contemporary dance with aerial circus arts and mime theatre storytelling. Omaggio is clearly one of its kind, pioneering in this form of performance art and opening a new wave of live entertainment and uplifting multi-skilled theatre.

There are companies such as Cirque du Soleil, Seven Fingers and Cirque Eloise that have created a niche for audiences to enjoy dance and be completely engrossed in a dream-like world through live performances. This is the same mark that Omaggio aims to make: high entertainment, never-before-seen live performance art and a growing young theatre audience.

Tell us a little about your dance performance, Jalika.

The word Jalika is a Sanskrit term that means a veil, a web or a net. It symbolises the very essence of our piece. Is this veil creating a confusion in the beliefs about who we are? Or is this veil so powerful that it makes us think of ourselves in a particular way when the reality is completely different? More questions come up... when did this veil appear and why? Has society been manipulating the masses to develop unnecessary needs so as to put veils in front of each one so that we disconnect from the real problems of humanity?

Jalika is a journey of discovering oneself while struggling between identity and image, and their meaning in society in these times. It is a story told through dance, mime, theatre and spectacular aerial movements, full of originality and emotion.

Peeya, you are professionally trained in Bharatnatyam and dance forms such as ballet, contemporary, modern, jazz and tap. What motivated you to start a dance company?

Tino has been the driving force behind Omaggio. He has 20 years of experience in the UK and Europe. He has choreographed and directed shows in Europe and South America. I have been vital in creating a wholesome set of values for the artists at Omaggio. My personal years of training are just a bonus.

Peeya, you are a certified Yoga teacher. Do you incorporate yoga in your dance?

Yoga is a way of life. A certificate merely indicates the beginning of the practice. Omaggio artists start each day with yoga in our studio amidst nature. Yoga and dance are both a study of the connection between the body, mind and soul.

Peeya, you had a wonderful stint on Hip Hip Hurray, followed by your role as a VJ and you’ve starred in a few films. What made you move away from the beauty and glamour of the film industry?

Circumstances in life carried me back to dance, which I began learning when I was 6-years-old.  At heart I am bohemian and have always been a very natural person. So, drifting away from the glamorous life and moving towards honing a craft was an inevitable progression.

Tino, what inspired you to bring Omaggio Performing Company to Goa? How has the response been so far?

When I wanted to start a specialised performing company out of the city, Goa seemed perfect; close to Mumbai and yet completely raw and rural. Five years ago when I started, I realised that to make this an out-of-the-box, international level company, I would have to first train the young artists, and only then could we achieve the desired results. So, what you see now is the hard work, perseverance and diligence of the last five years. The challenge that we faced was financing the project, because we didn’t have any external funding.

Tino, your last production The Playground received rave reviews? Tell us more about it and the journey behind it.

The Playground was a great experience and one of the first productions that I created with Omaggio. It was a completely different format from Jalika. It consisted of live singers, audio-visuals and a musical theatre style of dance choreography. We used popular music as opposed to specially composed music. It was widely appreciated by both International and local audiences in Goa. However, we did not tour with it because deep down we knew it was not our artistic language. The Playground was a fun and playful experience, as the name suggests.

Can you tell us about future projects that you have in the pipeline? What’s next in line for Omaggio?

Jalika is being looked at for selection at many international dance festivals. Our India tour is helping us get a feel of the audience as we perform this piece full of theatre and intense scripting, aerial acrobatics spectacles and beautiful lyrical contemporary dances.

Without much Indian classical influence in our work, it will be interesting to see what response a Western audience has to an Indian company with no traditional Indian performance methods, but only pure skill and avant-garde expressionism.

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