Dancing her way through life…
A PR professional by day and artist by night, Shereen’s love affair with performing arts began at the age of ten when she started learning Indian classical dance. Her tutelage under illustrious gurus Kalamandalam Sujatha, Dr Neena Prasad, and Pali Chandra, has shaped her into a stage performer conversant in three genres of Indian classical dance: Bharatanatyam, Mohiniyattam and Kathak.
Her foray into theatre started with Drama Dubai’s Desert Monologues in 2009. That year, she teamed up with a few aspiring actors and formed DRAG Productions. In 2010, they staged their first show at DUCTAC.
In 2011, Shereen was cast in the pilot episode of TV series Hopeful, Checking In, directed by Naim Zaboura, where she played the comic role of ‘Alisha’, a well-hearted but ditsy concierge.
She has been a troupe member of Star Too, Dubai’s first experimental theatre group, since 2011. Under the direction of Sol Abiad, she has been instrumental in creating original shows each year, including the project for La Sorbornne’s theatre festival ‘Motion e Motion’ in 2013. More recently, she won the Jury award for her play Alice and the Tightrope Walker at Short + Sweet Festival 2014.
Her passion for performing and visual arts has allowed her to dabble in a range of things including music, cartooning, doing voiceovers, and hosting stage and TV shows. She is a voiceover artist for local radio stations Hit 96.7 FM, City 101.6 FM, and 105.4 Radio Spice.
When she is not working, performing or tinkering, she likes to pack her bags to Kerala and train in Mohiniyattam. When she really gets into the swing, she likes to join women paddlers and participate in the Nehru Trophy Boat Race in the backwaters.
Key Shows and Performances
2014 The Unmanifested at Sikka, Dubai
2014 Naach Bollywood Group Show, Dubai
2014 Alice & the Tightrope Walker, Short + Sweet Theatre Festival, Dubai
2014 Trishakti, Music Academy, Chennai – India
2013 Mohiniyattam Group Show, India
2013 Rangoli Gulf (e-Masala Channel)
2012 ‘Sufi Noor’ Kathak Group Show, Dubai
2011 Kathak Festival, Dubai
2010 Lasya, solo Mohiniyattam recital, Chennai – India
2009 Surya Festival, Mumbai – India
2008 World Summit on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (WSIE), Dubai
2007 Natyalaya, solo Bharatanatyam recital, Dubai
2007 ‘Veena Poovu’ (Dance drama) at Kathakali Utsavam, Dubai
2005 ‘AKCAF Kalamela’ for Kairali TV, Dubai
How did it all start?
It started at the age of ten. My mom initiated me into learning music and dance so I started to learn an Indian traditional dance called Bharatanatyam. I stared learning that and performing. Still, as a child, you don’t connect with these things too much. Then, I went off and after school I studied engineering. During those years, I took a break from the classical genre and I went into pop music. At the end of my engineering years, I went on to do a thesis project on ‘Temple Theater,’ more precisely on performing arts. After that, whatever I did was for myself because my passion was ignited again. When I came to Dubai, I started learning other dance forms and working. Therefore, I conducted both paths in parallel.
What keeps you going?
Even though you might feel a bit physically tired, the idea of being on a stage or performing is just electric. Once you have faith in that, that’s what drives you, because when you’re performing, you feel alive. It is very addictive. I have always loved the stage and I have always loved creating.
Can you tell us more about your exhibition?
For the last couple of years, I have been performing and learning dance and arts. I have been thinking in participating in Sikka as an artist. At Sikka, they don’t only look at the dimensional art, but they also look at the installation and the whole experience. Thus, I thought to myself, ‘How I am going to experiment my dance as an artist?’ Still, I wanted to do more than perform.
As part of a performing arts group, we’ve already performed at Sikka. I walked around Sikka with Wapna at night and the whole mood was based on shadows. This is where the idea was born. I wanted to explore the world of shadows, including desires, psyche, and human tendencies.
Accordingly, I decided to have my small copybook of schemes. I was shortlisted and the space that was given to me was two rooms. So the space revealed itself to me to be a thought inside a thought, and the idea would develop throughout the wall.
On one wall I had the representation of myself in shadows and everything was previously shot at the studios. If you connect the different scenes, they created a story. We worked based on a storyline. Some of the ideas were connected while other ones were not.
We made three different movies of different themes; dialogue –where the shadow in the other room is reacting to the first shape-, cycle of life, chaos and stillness –where you can see the shadow moving from one wall to another-, flight and fall, reflection, actual reaction, let go, ego, super ego, and the id. I try to explore inner meanings of symbols and things. The interpretation is open to the viewer.
What is your personal opinion about art and dancing?
Art can give you ownership. As an artist, you can state that this is your work, your expression, you. There are things worth highlighting about dance, such as the physicality of it.
Sometimes, we don’t pay attention to our body. Still, if you dance, it shows in every movement you do every day: when you speak to someone, when you hold yourself, when you look at someone, etc. Also, the way you speak becomes different. You become more considerate. Dancers are more in tune with other people’s body language as well. If you develop this physicality more, you will understand that it’s beyond just the physical. It is connecting with your spiritual dimension.
When you see an exceptional dancer performing, you know that this dancer is not performing for you. As a beginner, you’re performing for others. However, after a while, you’re not performing for others: it’s beyond that. In order to reach that point, you experience a lifelong travel.