Not one but two SBDC students have made it to the BBC Young Dancers 2019 South Asian category final. Tulani Kayai-Skeef and Mahika Gautam are among the five South Asian dancers who will be participating in the televised programme being held on 6 March in Manchester and the only two representing Kathak in this year’s category final.
BBC Young Dancer is a prestigious national competition held every two years with the aim of finding the best young dancer in the UK. It is open to dancers aged 16-20 in four categories – Ballet, Contemporary, South Asian and Street/ hip hop dance – and is broadcast on BBC Two and Four.
Making it to the finals of such a high-profile event is a life changing experience for aspiring dancers. Indeed, SBDC has had its students reach the South Asian finals every year since the competition's inception. Previous finalists have been SBDC dancers Vidya Patel and Jaina Modasia, with Vidya going on to win the category final and Jaina reaching the category finals twice.
Says Vidya, who was also a first round judge this year: “I'm so happy to hear that both Tulani and Mahika have made it through. Having been part of the competition in 2015, I know what a special platform it is and how much work goes into it both ways from the Guru and the student! It's an amazing experience and opportunity which can change a lot of things. This year was definitely a surreal and humbling experience to be on the other side and judge the first rounds… the talent all round is brilliant. Definitely, a reflection of hard work and guidance from our wonderful Guru!"
According to Tulani: “I am so grateful and, of course, excited to be through to the next round of the BBC young dancer competition! Performing my two solos for the second round, choreographed by Sujata didi, was an enjoyable experience. All participants were so supportive of each other. I feel very fortunate to be able to share my pieces on such a big platform in March!”
Adds Mahika: “My experience has been very exciting because I have gone through the journey with no expectations and tried to focus on the present rather than what may or may not come. Initially it was hard for me because I was not used to dancing at such a high intensity in my own time but I learnt that if you prioritise things you will find time no matter what. I am looking forward to the workshops we do in February because it is another way to gain exposure as a dancer; learning from others’ expertise is priceless.”
Watch the BBC Young Dancer 2019 South Asian category final on Friday 19 April on BBC Four
Tulani photo credit: Simon Richardson
Mahika photo credit: Diwakar Gautam