Ashley Lobo - I Do Not Believe In the Term "Dance Teacher" (Founder - Danceworx & Choreographer)


With dance, the main areas one looks at is musicality, self-expression, connection, vocabulary and technique. The first three are a given with most people passionate about dance but if you want to excel at it as a professional dancer then learning a format in terms of vocabulary and technique becomes critical. 

The vocabulary increases the scope of your physical language and the technique gives you control and clarity.



Tell us more about your background and journey.


I was born and raised in Chembur, Mumbai and am the youngest of three children.

I went to a boarding school called St. Mary’s in Mt. Abu and then attended college at St. Xavier’s in Mumbai for my BA in Economics. I studied there till my second year of graduation. I completed my final year through correspondence as my grades weren’t good enough and my mother refused to pay my college fees (laughs). It was her way of teaching me an early lesson i.e., to value what I have. Post this, at the age of 21, I went to Australia to study dance at the Bodenweiser centre in Sydney.

My father was in the Indian Army and we travelled with him as a family. We are goans by origin but settled in Mumbai for 3 generations. My mother was an Opera singer and Theater Director & I’ve learnt a lot from her as a youngster growing up, just watching her work.



When did you first decide you wanted to pursue dancing and how did you start?

Honestly, for me, it was by accident. My mother was a musical theatre director and got me in just to keep me out of trouble. I started dancing in competitions at about the age of 15. A choreographer spotted me and then took me to train professionally. I quit in between but then again at 19, I was asked to choreograph a school production. I did that and the newspapers wrote good things about it. 

When I went to collect my cheque from the school, all the girls started screaming so I thought ‘Wow, I actually must have been good’. At 19- 20 years of age, you make decisions based on the mindset that you want to be loved, be famous and that’s when I decided to study international dance in Australia. I trained in Jazz, Ballet and Contemporary there and then came back to India in 1998 and started The Danceworx. I have been in the industry ever since. 

My dancing years were few, just about 6 or 7 years as they were cut short by an early injury. However, I have never stopped teaching or choreographing.



As a dance teacher, what is the skill that one needs to work successfully?

Firstly I do not believe in the term "dance teacher" because I see myself as a dancer that upgraded myself daily as a student and shared that with others I believe you must have a crazy passion to discover dance and you must have a love of understanding people. 

The combination makes information flow, in a passionate and connected way.



Is format training required or can one train themselves purely on the basis of talent?

With dance, the main areas one looks at is musicality, self-expression, connection, vocabulary and technique. The first three are a given with most people passionate about dance but if you want to excel at it as a professional dancer then learning a format in terms of vocabulary and technique becomes critical. 

The vocabulary increases the scope of your physical language and the technique gives you control and clarity.



What piece of advice would you like to give to future and aspiring artists?

If dance is your passion, fight for your dream. It’s never easy but it’s definitely worth it. If you are fond of something you will never stop doing it. Even a fool, if he does so much of anything will find success in it.



Who is your favourite dancer and why? 

I have many favourites. Bob Fosse is one, his style of choreography was minimal. Classic not noisy like the stuff we see today. It was understated but said do much more.


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Interviewed by - Ritika Malhotra

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