BENGALURU: Dancer-choreographer Jahnavi Sheriff is known for being quite the experimental one, often sporting colours like orange, neon green and pink on her tresses. But while her mane changes appearance often, one thing stays constant: Sheriff’s love for dancehall, a freestyle form of dance from Jamaica inspired by reggae music. And it’s exactly this love that has brought her to Bengaluru, where she will conduct a dancehall event this weekend.
But how did a Mumbai-based dancer get acquainted with a dance form from the Caribbean country? Interestingly, Sheriff got introduced to dancehall in 2013, while she was in New York for a one-year programme at Broadway Dance Center. Describing her ‘love at first sight’ moment, she says, “It just happened to me, almost like dancehall chose me.” This wasn’t Sheriff’s first exposure to dance though, since she has also done a four-year diploma in Bharatanatyam from Kalakshetra Foundation in Chennai. “Since I come from a different dance background, I found dancehall to be very liberating. It has given me a positive outlook on life,” says the 26-year-old, who equates the danceform to ‘culture from Jamaica’. “Dancehall is dance, music and fashion all put together.”
After returning from New York, Sheriff decided to share the joy she felt. It has now been six years since Sheriff’s journey with the dance form began – a tryst that was made more interesting thanks to the varied reactions she got from people. “When I started off, people in India were curious about this dance form but they had their inhibitions. I have met both kind of crowds – the ones excited to try dancehall and the ones who weren’t interested,” she says. But things have also changed since then, with more dancers taking up the art form. “Getting into dance hall can be a spiritual experience,” says Sheriff.She now travels across India to teach dancehall and also conducts workshops at dance schools like Terence Lewis Academy. She is also a trained yoga instructor.
Jahnavi Sheriff will be conducting a dancehall workshop at Casa Bacardi, at The Bohemian House, on November 23,2pm onwards.