Asian Music and Dance

In the first Person

Nikita Thakrar took an unconventional path when she decided to bypass university in pursuit of her true passion-dance. Four years later, the 22-year-old is the soul and artistic force behind Dancing Nikita Company. 

“My journey in dance began when I was 14 years old. For those of you who remember the film ‘Taal’ produced by Subhash Ghai — that was the film that initially inspired me to dance. 

“During that time, Bollywood dance was being heavily promoted in London. To see what all the hoo-ha was about I went to see Taal. Something clicked within me while watching the beautiful Aishwariya Rai performing soft hand gestures in pure white outside in the rain. 

“I began taking dance lessons with Sudharshan Dheer in London who taught bhangra and Bollywood dance. Although I enjoyed the lessons, there was something not right about what I was learning. I felt there was not enough depth in the movements.

“I began watching more and more films. I was mesmerised by the dancing in films such as, ‘Umrao Jaan’ and ‘Mughal-e-Azam’, later discovering that the dancing was called Mujra. Mujra was inspired by kathak and I realised I was more attracted to kathak.

“Once I was clear in my mind what it was I wanted to learn, I set off to India on a journey to find a teacher. I was 18 at the time and had to go through the process of persuading my academic- and business-minded parents that I did not want to go to university that year. Instead, I wanted to take a gap year and learn Indian dance in India. After a lot of persuasion, I set off with their support and encouragement.

“In India I learnt not only how to dance, but also how to live.”

 “In India I learnt not only how to dance, but also how to live. After spending months travelling and meeting different types of people, I finally found my teacher, whom I owe a lot to today. Shila Mehta is one of the finest kathak dancers India has. Not only is she an exceptional dancer, but she’s also an excellent teacher. Through her I discovered the joys of dancing movements in a sequenced pattern and the depth and emotions behind the movements. She exposed me to a warm and contented world, into which I now easily enter every time I dance. 

“After several trips to India, I evolved into a positive and happy person. I truly believe my experiences in India have made me who I am today, which is a strong-willed, sincere student, performer and dance teacher. 

“I had not planned to start a dance company when I returned from my first trip to India. However, things started happening. I began getting offers to perform solo at various events. Young people asked if they could train with me. Slowly I acquired my students, my group and established what is known today as the Dancing Nikita Company. The company now consists of 200 students, three branches and a professional troupe of dancers who have performed at high-profile events.

“I believe everything happens for a reason and I am now confident that this is what I am meant to be doing. Oh… and I did not end up going to university.”



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