Beauty and talent couple to describe Neha Dawar, Subdued by the uniqueness of indo-culture, Neha believes that it offers a, “unique approach to the development of Trinbagonian culture.” Her dedication to obtain knowledge of her art along with the inclusion of Trinbagonian culture facilitates experimentation with Kathak. Her fusion of both Kathak and local dance has broadened her scope, affording her the ability to im-provise and engage audiences. Neha credits her love for Contemporary Kathak and Kathak Dance to her guru who is based in India. While her journey did not begin with her India based dance guru, she has trained with a number of Trinidad and Tobago before beginning her journey.
Currently pursuing her bachelor degree in Fashion Design at the Centre for Arts and Fashion Design at the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT), Neha plans to become involved in the creative industry as a career. Her aspirations are realistic and well thought out; “To develop an understanding of my genre of dance and display the poetry and the art it has to offer” is a top priority for Neha. Added to her list is, “To excel as a fashion designer while demonstrating that we are not only tailors and seamstresses but artists who sketch and apply aesthetics of natural beauty to clothing and fashion accessories.”
Neha’s personal credo is guided by her Punjabi background which she lives by; ‘Nirbhau Nirvair’ - Without Fear and Without Hate which was taught by Sahib the guru of Sikhism. Her eyes are set on being extraordinary and a ruler in her fields just as one of her sources of inspiration Rani Lakshmi Bhai; a brave and patriotic female leader who battled and became known as the queen of Jhansi. Mungal Patasar’s life journey and his works with the fusion of indo-culture and the steelpan has also been imprinted in the mind of Neha, acting as a motivational nudge for her. Her sources of inspiration added with her Punjabi background, personal interests and Hindu teachings can be credited for what Neha describes as her most unique attribute, “Being myself and not trying to be someone I am not.”
To date, Neha has performed at a number of venues in Trinidad and Tobago, namely, Diwali Nagar, University of Trinidad and Tobago, University of the West Indies, Naparima Bowl and Queen’s Hall. When asked to describe her style of dance, Neha uses the words, emotional, meditation and trance which are experienced by both spectators and her. In the future she hopes to travel across the globe sharing her messages through dance and her other talents.
Neha is all about culture, art and fashion and refuses to limit herself; jewelry making, makeup artistry, drawing and painting are other talents she can boast of. Her involvement in charity is consistent, having worked with a number of organizations in Trinidad and Tobago. She loves classical Indian, Punjabi, Soca, Calypso, Rock and Reggae music. As Neha continues to chant “Om Namo Narayana” her challenges become scarce and she becomes one step closer to attaining an eternal and blissful life.
Q&A WITH NEHA DAWAR
You are multitalented; you are Dancer, Fashion Designer Student,Event/Image Consultant, Artist and Jewellery Designer. Give me 5 words that sum you up.
Creative, energetic, ambitious, serene and dedicated.
If you were to put your entire career in order of importance what will it be?
Being an artist to me is the most important. When I say artist I am using it to for me as a performer and designer. Jewelry design is my hobby mostly but I am in love with creating unique pieces upon request hopefully later on I will be able to do it on a larger scale. I can say without any hesitation that performing is my passion.
How do you balance all that you are doing? You seem very busy?
Dedication and discipline; I believe that if you dedicate yourself and maintain a realistic routine not straying off course then balancing what you do becomes easy. At least that is what I do.
What is your typical day like?
I am usually up by 5am for the very latest once the usually after tending to my personal preparations I prepare a cup of coffee and skype with my dance teacher in India. Following that is a minimum 2 hours practice session and then I am off to school where I study Fashion Design (UTT). At present school is on break so I start making calls and then go straight to meeting with clients. I usually sketch new ideas, do research, prepare orders and squeeze in family time which is very important to me. When school isn’t closed I usually meet clients on my way from school and then head home to complete projects and assignments. My days are long and my nights are short mostly..
What is Kathak dancing and how when did you start doing this?
Kathak is one of the unique artforms of the 6 major classical dance forms of India. I saw the legendary “Pt Briju Maharaj ji” on television performing his footwork, with one of India’s lead dance programs, at that time I was learning how to play the tabla and one day while walking down from tabla class, I passed a classroom, and saw beautiful intricate footwork, and I was overwhelmed. The next Saturday I was in that particular class learning the beautiful footwork I admired.
The world “Kathak” itself explains what it is. Kathak came from the world “Katha” which means storytelling. Kathak is an artform itself which will take a lifetime to learn. Kathak demands that the dancer has a very high level of command over the music and rhythm within the music and a broad knowledge of Hindu and Muslim poetry as it’s all about telling a story. From this I have developed from my studies and training in Contemporary Kathak which I am mixing contemporary dance with Kathak which will be soon seen.
The Fashion Industry is a competitive Industry what are some of the challenges you face?
Since I am still a fashion student I may not be able to share a number of experiences but I can say that in the Fashion Industry there is many ups and down, but I believe in three words “Understand, Accept and Adjust.” As fashion students sometimes the level of critique we receive may be harsh at times. Sometimes I would have expected a favourable response based on the work that I produced but received the opposite instead. It is to first understand the situation, then accept what it is and make my adjustments by attempting to make it better. If there is a challenge, you must embrace it not run from it.
Tell us about your Jewellery line?
It is not a line so to say, my pieces are designed exclusively for clients upon request. I usually receive a request based on an occasion/event and I will design to suit. I love to work with precious stones as well as metal jewelry. Most of my jewelry is inspired by Middle Eastern culture. In the picture attached I used stones such as Amethyst, onyx, pearls, sea beads, amber, jade and others.
What celebrity would you love to see in your designs?
Kate Middleton, ever since she stepped out in that stunning Alexender McQueen wedding gown she was dubbed a woman of style who sets trends and I am aspiring to set trends with my designs.
Top Career moments so far?
Honestly, I am not there yet. Every experience thus far has been memorable.
Favourite part of your Job?
Meeting new people and being able to put a smile on their faces.
What’s your five year plan?
No one can tell what can happen in five years, only the creator knows but my focus is on development within my years as development is the key to success. I am however focusing on finishing my degree and would love to build my empire within the fashion industry and create an identifiable name for myself as a dancer.