In Conversation With Amit Patel: Dancing With a Cause
Courage, resilience, and talent- each one of their characteristics are found in individuals who have created change in their communities by breaking stereotypes and becoming model figures for those who have yet to embark on a similar path. One such personality, Amit Patel, has not only taught us how to go beyond the restrictions that society has imposed on us career wise, but also taught us that the creative arts serve a much greater purpose than to merely entertain. Lines were meant to be colored outside of, and Amit has taught us how!
“I dance sometimes to depict reality, sometimes to escape it, but more often than not, to show the beauty of human potential.”
– Amit Patel
When did you start dancing? How were you introduced to it?
Amit’s dance journey started off in 2003/2004 as more of a social activity when he joined Bollywood dance classes at his local community center to stay connected to his South Asian hetetage. Eventually, he joined the Mona Khan Dance Company and ventured into contemporary and fusion hip hop forms of dance. This went on to be the perfect way to understand and blend his mixed (South Asian and American) cultural identity.
When did dance become something that you were passionate about?
Between high school and college, he realized that school was not making him feel alive, and that it was not the avenue that he wanted to take in order to contribute to the world. Furthermore, he wanted to live his life with purpose, and following his passion for dance was how he had to bring that purpose into his life.
What do you use as inspiration for your work?
Amit mentioned that he derives inpiration from various outlets such as songs, world events,personal experiences and concepts that he encounters. He also highlighted the research component in coming up with his choregraphy, and its importance in presenting an accurate representation of his subject.
What aspect of dance are you most drawn to?
Amit explains that dance functioned as a support system for him during a low emotional point in his life, and became something that he could use to escape reality. It has an addictive quality to it, and allows us to discover so much about ourselves and the world we live in, he furthers. One essential aspect is the ability to communicate your intention. Whether you are performing an abstract piece or telling a story, the intention must be clear. All in all, life is a dance, and everyone is dancing, whether they know it or not.
Do you think dance could be used for greater purposes than entertainment?
Using dance to create change in society, we discovered, is actually one of Amits goals for the year! Dancers, he says, can use their art to unite, inform, inspire, and influence people about current issues in te world. One current issue that he wants to work on is normalizing diversity in the Indian American cultural grey area, something that is much needed in the community. He also wants to work on creating a collection of online dance videos so that his messages will be available to the masses, and depict our current reality.
What advice would you give to millennials wanting to pursue a career in the arts, specifially dance?
The obvious piece of advice would be to work hard, but one important component that is often forgotten when embarking on this journey is finances. He explains that this should be the number one item of business, because no matter how much we deny it, money is important. After that, you have to decide what you want to do or say, something that you can discover by talking to your contemporaries. At the end of the day, he says to stay true to your intentions, and don’t give up!
“ Life is a dance where people are always in a constant state of motion.”
What are your future plans?
Something that Amit wants to explore more is the scope of Indian Contemporary dance and how it would function in the art space. He would also like to work more with nonprofits to help them raise funds as well as spread their messages through dance. When asked about the possibility of doing a reality show, he answered by telling us that if he found something that would help him achieve his goal of social change, then he would think of pursuing one. He also would like to rebrand the Bollywood style of dance by showing the world that there is a lot more to it than “shimmies” and “tumkas”. More simply. he would like to create content that he is proud of, and help people!
Amit Patel is a rising star in our community, and when he dances his passion is more than evident – each one of his movements is strong and filled with emotion that will make you feel the music and clearly understand what his is depicting. His purpose of using dance as a medium for social change inspires artists to go back to the roots of creativity and love their art more than their commerical success. Thank you for being a role model for all dancers and sharing your art with us!