We have always admired Ishita Mili’s work. She has a creative sense that manifests itself in so much more than movement. Ishita is, in one word, a visionary.
We wanted to shed light on the amazing things she’s doing to create a true fusion of Indian classical and urban movement.
When & where did you start dancing?
Started dancing I was able to jiggle my bones!! I did ballet when I was 3 for a very short time because I hated it. I formally moved to training in Bharatanatyam under Smt. Sudha Devullapali Shekar at Kalanjali School of Dance at 5 years old. I was also trained in Indian contemporary fusion under Sukalyann Bhattacharya, an internationally acclaimed choreographer based in Kolkata who also happens to be my uncle.
How would you characterize your style?
My style is called Urban Indian - its a new genre I created that pulls from my Bharatanatyam, Indian folk, and Hip Hop training.
Do you teach dance? If so, what type of classes?
I sometimes teach! I teach intermediate Urban Indian master classes, mostly if I'm invited to teach at a studio or convention.
What inspired you to start teaching classes?
I don't often teach, but once I started putting my work out and trying this out on different types of dancers, I found that even the most skilled and trained dancer can learn a lot from Urban Indian. Now when I teach, I take into account the demographic I'm teaching and what kind dance quality or trait I think they would benefit the most from focusing on that they can apply to their own movement.
What are your goals as a dancer? As a choreographer? And as a teacher?
My main goal is to really push Urban Indian as a global brand with my company IMGE and be able to create larger scale touring productions, choreograph for major artists, and break into film. I also want to use this brand as a method of keeping Indian culture and stories alive in a modern way that is relevant to all generations, both South Asian and non. As a teacher, I want to make good dancers great dancers through the lessons I've learned by training in a wide range of styles and now creating my own.
What gives you inspiration?
Stories, people, nature, history, anything thats interesting to me.
What has been your biggest challenge you have come across in your career so far?
I feel like... theres not one challenge. Every time I get over one big challenge there seems to be a bigger one. But then with every challenge is usually an important lesson that makes it worth it. One of the bigger challenges was a couple years ago when I tore my ACL and was totally out of dancing for 6 months. It took me a year to fully recover. But that experience led me to stop dancing like a maniac and think about what all of my training meant up till that moment... and thats really when Urban Indian started!
If you could go back in time, what advice and lessons learned would you had given your “younger self”?
Stop trying to make other people happy!!!!!!! It don't mean s***!!!!!!
If you could give advice for aspiring younger dancers, what did you discover about this industry that you would want others to know about?
I've started to think about longevity a lot more as I've been working in the industry. There's a lot of dance fads and trends going on, but I think for a dancer, longevity comes from having strong foundations. So no matter what stage you are in the dance game, always keep training in your foundations so that your individual style can be stronger.
What does dance mean to you?
Dance is my voice, its my identity. If I didn't have dance, I wouldn't be me.
When do you teach? What’s your upcoming schedule? Any upcoming projects?
Don't have a regular teaching schedule but we have performances and new content coming out in the new year! Sunday Jan 6th IMGE debuts our latest production, "MANASA" at Stam-pede at Symphony Space, NYC. Info will soon be available on www.imgedance.com.
Where can we find you on social media?
Instagram: @ishitamili / @imgedance
FB: Ishita Mili / IMGE