“I feel very fortunate to be living my dream of dance and choreography in India and all over the world,” says India’s most sought-after dance guru and choreographer, Ashley Lobo. He has more than one reason to feel lucky and blessed. Lobo brought home another laurel last year by choreographing a full-length ballet for the Chemnitz Ballet in Germany. “A first for any Indian choreographer,” he beams. “So, I am not just happy. I am ecstatic.”
Ashley Lobo is a shining exponent of classical ballet, jazz and contemporary styles. Blame his genes. With Celia Lobo, a renowned opera singer and theatre personality, as his mother, Lobo was bound to share her leanings towards the fine arts. During his early years in Mumbai, he got a chance to work with leading personalities from the field of theatre, including Alyque Padamsee, Karla Singh, Salome Roy Kapoor and more. He also got to hone his skills in productions like Best of Broadway, Grease, Cascades, Cabaret, Evita… Australia beckoned in 1989 and he moved to Oz to study dance at the Bodenweiser Dance Centre and then at the Sydney Dance Company. Meant to be.
So, his rich repertoire spans theatrical works overseas as well as in as well as in ballet, television and choreography. It wasn’t easy supporting himself on foreign turf. Ashley scrubbed floors in Australia and sold consumer goods to eke out a living. Few know he is a yoga practitioner as well. But each time Ashley pursued another stream, life always brought him back to his true calling. Call it a karmic connection. “There is a saying: ‘you don’t choose dance, it chooses you’. I was fortunate that no matter how much I did not believe in myself, the universe did and made sure I got back to dance even when it seemed impossible. Today, I go where dance takes me. I have surrendered my life to serving dance,” says Ashley. He has, of course, made it a point to give back on home turf.
Shilpi Madan for Deccan Herald