A Mumbai-based salsa dance duo Sonali-Bivash wooed the judges of Britain’s Got Talent with their energetic and unique style.
Salsa dancing, although hailing from Latin dance forms dating back to the 1900s, has now become a household name in India after the two salsa dancers Sonali Majumdar and Bivash Sardar, first appeared in India’s Got Talent in 2012. Fifteen-year-old Sonali not only won the show, with Bivash becoming a semi-finalist in the sixth and seventh series, but they also took the international stage at Britain’s Got Talent (BGT) this year with their killer Bad Salsa form. The two wowed the judges with their energetic performance in the UK, that will air in India on Colours Infinity.
“I think we can’t explain how it felt. We were excited and confident about our performance and we gave our best. We feel motivated and proud that we could represent India on an international stage,” says 24-year-old Bivash, who has toured Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Dubai, and Mauritius with Sonali. Both are regular performers at the Mr India contest as well.
Although the Bad Salsa duo lost the contest to Ukrainian sand animation performance artist Kseniya Simonova, they still successfully won the judges’ hearts. The jury, comprising of Simon Cowell, Julianne Hough, Gabrielle Union and Howie Mandel, not only appreciated the duo for their two-minute-long performance to a medley of songs, but also said that they have never seen such a salsa performance before, and “if this is the bad salsa then we don’t want to see good salsa.”
“We made the performance a bit faster because we had to show every step in two minutes. We were shocked to see judges and the audiences standing and clapping after our performance. We are very happy to get so many good comments from the judges. Winning and losing is part of life so we aren’t sad about it,” says Sonali, who started learning salsa dance at the age of seven and has also appeared in other dance reality shows like Jhalak Dikhla Jaa and Dance Champions. While Sonali started her dance stint with salsa, Bivash used to do aerial dance act and just before appearing to the BGT, he took up a few steps of salsa.
Talking about their name Bad Salsa, Bivash explains that his trainer and founder of the Bad Salsa group, Bivash Chowdhury, invented this form of the dance form, which includes acrobatics and a lot of footwork. “It is actually called Acro Salsa, but because of the group name this has become famous with the same name,” he explains, adding that this version of salsa has a lot of physical stunts involved. “It has a lot of risks involved. We used to be very scared initially, but with practice, the moves have become easier,” he shares.
Under Chowdhury’s mentorship, the team finds that proper amalgamation of form, method, and unique presentation is what makes them stand out. “What we do is very different and unique, that’s why it is loved by people in India and abroad. It is challenging because it is a very evolved dance form. When you perform, the crowd gives you a great level of energy. Not many people do the kind of salsa dancing that we do,” Sonali explains.
When asked about their passion for the dance, both dancers confess that it is because of their training and trainer that they are able to venture into new forms of dancing. As of now, the duo, along with many other young dancers, are living in a small Gurukul (as they call it) in Palghar. “We practice 10 to 12 hours a day and study as well. We have a very strict schedule and we follow it seriously,” says Bivash, to which Sonali adds, “Because we have to do all the hard work and our trainer does all the smart work of choreography we have to follow the schedule.”