We all love to move our body to our favourite tunes, don’t we? When you dance, your soul, mind, and body are in sync. It’s a beautiful state of mind to be in, quite like meditation. Perhaps, dance is a way of expressing your inner thoughts or releasing stress hormones within your body. Either way, it’s an art that’s united people and made way for a higher form of expression. Before you hit the dance floor, there’s always butterflies in your stomach. But, when you do tap your feet to the music, you realise you’re no longer restricted; you’re like a carefree kid unwary of people’s thoughts because you’re being you. That’s the power of dance. We are told that Fawas Ameer embraced dance for life and genuinely shares a beautiful relationship with it. For him, it was like stepping into a new realm that helped me discover himself better.
Meet the man behind the avant-garde dance sequence from “Njan Jacksonallada” in the movie Ambili. While Fawas Ameer made us love Soubin’s moves from the song, he also showed us what he was truly capable of. Having worked as a performing artist and freelance dancer for the past 16 years, Fawas has accomplished a lot more than you can imagine. He has acquired training in various contemporary dance styles and performing arts, namely Contact improvisation, Bollywood and cinematic dance, Kalaripayattu, Flying low technique, Bharatanatyam, Butoh, Indian Folk and Traditional dance, The Zooz Approach, Acting, Yoga, Tribal dance, Ballet, Authentic movement creation, Mime, and Improvisation in renowned institutes across the globe. When Fawas is on his toes, there’s nothing stopping him from killing it on the dancefloor with his mesmerising theatrics that’s conversational yet delightful to the eye. You’d like to know that he was recently chosen to be a member of the International Dance Council under the UNESCO – an achievement worth a mention!
We got an opportunity to catch up with the man himself. Fawas opened about his personal life, his tryst with dancing and what he does when isn’t breaking bread.
Can you describe the moment your first began to love dancing?
I cannot trace it back to any particular moment as such because I have been dancing since my childhood. However, I remember having a crush on someone in my class during that time. I would get animated and move around enthusiastically to impress her, as I loved doing it to get her attention. I also remember dancing to Prabhu Deva’s hit song ‘Chikbuk raile’, when I was in Grade 3. But I cannot pin it down to any particular moment as to when I started loving dance.
What are some little known facts about yourself you would want others to know?
I used to play cricket during my school days. I have played in under-14, 16 and 19 categories representing both zonal and district teams. If I had not become a dancer, I would have concentrated more on cricket. Many of my co-players during that time went on to play the Ranji trophy.
What made you first realise that you wanted to pursue a career in dance?
During my college days, I used to get a lot of offers to dance in shows and other events. I even got an opportunity to dance in Santhosh Sivan Sir’s movie ‘Anandabhadram’, along with Kalabhavan Mani and Riya Sen. As time went by, I found dance to be the only thing I was very confident doing compared to everything else. Slowly, I realized that dance was something which I could pursue as a career, as well as the only way I could communicate instead of using words.
What’s the first thing that you do when you meet a person for the first time?
I keenly observe each and every person I meet. I like observing gestures, mannerisms and other movements, which might help me in my work.
What does your typical work week look like?
My work schedule varies with the projects I am involved in. But there are a few things I never miss out on, every single day. Firstly, I always try to resonate with the space I am in. Secondly, I do body meditation, to awaken my body from the inertia of the previous night. Next, I practice martial arts, Butoh, movement improvisation and somatic practices. If my friends are around, I do a bit of contact improvisation, which involves the exploration of one’s body in relationship with others using the fundamentals of sharing weight, touch, and movement awareness.
How did the “Njan Jackson Allada” gig come by? How was the whole process of choreographing the song with Soubin Shahir like?
I was associated with the actress, Rima Kallingal’s dance school, Mamangam in Kochi. I was the Artistic Director of the institute. It was Rima who told me about this project and insisted that I take it up. Working with Soubin was an absolute joy. He was very friendly and I could easily connect with him. Basically, he is a quick learner. Together, we brainstormed about the movements and he had a lot of suggestions which enriched the entire act. I just gave a basic structure of the choreography over which he brought in the Soubin factor.
What do you think about the role dance has to play in “New Gen” Mollywood?
Malayalam cinema has changed drastically over the years as it has begun experimenting with fresh concepts and stories. This has slowly started to reflect in all aspects of the Malayalam movie industry. I believe that when it comes to dance or choreography, there is a large scope for experimentation and introduction of new methods and concepts. We just need to explore the movements that go with the undertones of any movie. Honestly speaking, that’s what I tried doing in the Jackson song, by bringing in Ambili’s character sketch and moods to the act.
What’s the one thing we won’t find in your resume alone?
I have a habit of collecting random things that come to me. It might be leaves, chocolate wraps, tickets, stones, etc. I don’t deliberately go for these things, but at certain moments or occasions, I just feel like keeping these things with me. I feel a kind of connect with these objects. I know this is weird. That’s why I don’t disclose it to everyone.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve come across lately?
One year ago, I met with an accident and injured my right shoulder, and this badly affected my career. I was under treatment as I could hardly move my right hand. I missed a lot of national and international circuits due to this. It was my patience and acceptance towards reality, and friends who supported and encouraged me, that helped me to overcome that period.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Binge-watch shows and movies on Netflix
When you’re aren’t dancing, what is it that you love doing?
I go on Solo trips.
3 go-to places in Kerala you’d recommend your friends to visit
Agastyarkoodam, Tiruneli, and Rosemala
What’s your greatest Kerala food weakness?
Puttu and Palayamthodan pazham.
What do you like and dislike about Malayalis