• BRINGING PACIFIC DANCE TO THE WORLD

Her life of dance

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Sharleen from VOU was featured in a story for The Fiji Times on 25 March 2014

“I’ve always wanted to be a dancer. Any day, I would choose to be a dancer,” said Sharleen Ali.

Even though our conversation was regularly punctuated by her merry laugh, there was no mistaking the passion with which the above statement was delivered.

The 23-year-old who won Fiji Dancing Superstars, which started in February and ended on March 15, with her dancing partner John Peckham says she’s been dancing pretty much for most of her life.

“I’ve been dancing since high school. I was, in high school, trained in Pacific — Tahitian hula, and Bollywood dancing. I was also introduced to choreography through Tandra Kahani.

“I came out of high school and Sachiko (Soro) of Vou saw me dance and she told me ‘come down and practise with us one day’. That was how I got into Vou. That was in late October, 2010.

“That’s pretty much when my dancing career took off.”

Sharleen says she’s travelled a fair bit through dance.

“We’ve travelled to China, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and the Solomons for the 11th Pacific Arts Festival in 2012,” said the former student of International Secondary School Suva.

“I had a really bad shoulder injury which is why I quit Vou. That was almost at the end of 2012. I took a rest for about a year. I then joined the Alliance Francaise because I was extremely bored doing nothing at home.

“When I got injured and had to leave, it was the most heartbreaking thing I’ve had to do in my life. I shed so much tears crying at night.”

She said life as a dancer could be extremely busy.

“It was a full-time job for me. We used to train from 8am to until around lunch time, then train again for another hour or two, then we had dance classes for the little ones, so we used to teach as well. And when we’re not teaching, we’re preparing for our classes or rehearsing for a show.

“Our Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays were taken up driving down to Nadi to perform at Denarau or at other hotels, we were always on the go, it was a 24-hour job.”

The only child of Suman and Akbar Ali holds three positions at the Alliance Francaise. She is the PA to the director, the accounts assistant and is also the administration head.

Her parents, to whom she is very grateful for their continued support, are event co-ordinators.

Despite the office job, there are some plans for dance.

“Definitely, definitely I will go back to it very soon actually. And I also want to go and study dance therapy in Australia. This is basically counselling and recovery through dance.

“It’s not only about injury. It’s also about a mental and emotional thing as well. … So I want to study that and bring it back”

While some people may not think highly of dancing, Sharleen believes it can be pursued as a meaningful career. She say this is an area which needs to be worked on because “the arts industry needs to be appreciated more”.

When reminded that one cannot dance forever, Sharleen said she met a man in Malaysia who was close to 50 and still dancing. They key she believes is having the passion for what you do. Sharleen also pointed out there are other aspects of dance which one can be involved in apart from actually dancing.

Through dance, Sharleen says she has learnt to be open-minded, have some discipline, good with time management, has been very organised and in general appreciated life a lot more.

Talking about being open-minded, she says this is the way to approach a performance, also life in general, and take away as much as possible from it.

 

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