Dance Interview: Ahneesh Valodia – Destined For Dance, Or The Potential To Move

December 17, 2022




An aspiring artist with a passion for dance, a burning desire to take his talent to new heights, and then a medical condition that altered the path he began paving for himself: Ahneesh Valodia is an inspiration to many.

“Dance is like oxygen; it is life itself and it is needed to survive, it can give you nothing more than fleeting moments of joy and love, but this is where the true magic lies,” he says. A little boy with big dreams, Ahneesh’s love for dance first manifested itself at eight years old. He turned those dreams into reality through hard work, consistency, and commitment and became synonymous with skill and creativity.

“I am a self-taught dancer in the Bollywood genre, having spent many years watching videos of my favorite actors, like Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan, and mimicking their sleek dance moves. As a young boy, I grabbed at every opportunity to perform and work on challenging routines for myself and others,” he remembers. Ahneesh completed formal training in Kathak – a north Indian style of dancing, though he welcomed exposure to other styles of dance during his journey, attending both the Vadhini Indian Arts Academy and the Natraja School of Dance, in Cape Town.

“I experienced my first taste of performing on stage at a year-end concert at the Gandhi Memorial School which I attended. The event, the exhilaration of the performance, and the warm reception of the audience left me hungry for more,“ he says. Ahneesh was in his late teens when muscular dystrophy started affecting his dancing. The initial signs were small but evident and the reality of his future became more palpable as the months went by. “I was deeply affected by the realisation that what I loved the most wouldn’t be a part of my life in the way I imagined. Transitioning from being physically able to then using a walking cane to becoming fully wheelchair-bound was a slow process for me, but this allowed me time to come to terms with the changes my body was going through,” he explains.

However, Ahneesh is no quitter. He found a way to contribute to the dance fraternity through teaching and choreography and later as an artistic director. This opened a world of possibility where his creativity was not just limited to dance, but enabled him to branch out into costume design, set, prop, and his personal favorite lighting design. “This multi-faceted approach to creating stage work surpassed every vision I had for myself and I have been blessed with the most memorable artistic experiences,” he says.

Ahneesh is now the artistic director of Taare, a dance troupe formed to provide a space for individuals to pursue their passion for dance. It has since become a safe space for many dancers from different walks of life to share the joys of dance, build close relationships and ultimately be a part of a close-knit dance family. Taare serves as a platform for young adults to perform professionally and also for Ahneesh to fulfill his desire to choreograph and teach. Ten years later, Taare has become a hub of cross-cultural collaboration. Taare is not only sharing their dance style with others but also exposing their dancers to other art forms. Taare also performs as guests at events with other dance companies in Cape Town. They perform for community, charity, private and corporate events throughout the year. In the foreseeable future, Ahneesh would not only like Taare to continue being a beacon of Indian dance in Cape Town, but also to participate in national performances and continue to create stage performances that educate, entertain and enrich their audience. He also hopes to create a kid’s division of Taare and help young minds to develop their skills under his guidance.

“Before a dancer can tap into their potential, they need to show commitment to simple things like regular attendance and committing choreography to memory. A good dancer needs to have drive and a passion for the platform. A willingness to learn other dance styles will further enhance their movement ability and knowledge. A team spirit, camaraderie, resilience and the ability to accept criticism will take a dancer to new heights,” he notes.

Ahneesh’s advice to aspiring dancers is: “Just get up and dance! Find an academy you can connect with and take your development seriously. Use your skills to enrich those around you. When people watch a dancer perform they are instantly filled with joy, so use your skills to bring joy to the world, it will carry with it an experience and memory no amount of money in the world can buy.”


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