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Dheeraj, Oh, My Darling

Posted by admin On November - 5 - 2009  Print  Email  

Popular Dancer Quits Stage With Off Broadway Musical

by Susan Gosine

Dheeraj Gayaram will make his last appearance as a stage dancer on Sunday night. He will bow out of the spotlight dressed in a tuxedo, holding a cane in his hand, wearing a fedora on his head and shoes on his feet.

Dheeraj Gayaram at his dance studio. Nataraj, the God of Dance is in the background.

Dheeraj Gayaram at his dance studio.

His farewell number is a unique choreography to a re-mixed male version of Caravan’s hit song “Piya tu ab tu aaja,” to which he promises a performance unlike any he has done in his 35 years as an Indian dancer. Instead of “Monica, oh, my darling,” fans will cheer to “Dheeraj, oh, my darling.”

And those who purchased tickets to his Off Broadway Production, West Indian Dream, will witness history in the making when the show comes off this weekend. The production is a collaborative effort of New Age Theatre and Dheeraj Cultural Foundation Inc., and will be staged at the American Theatre of Actors at 314W 54th Street, New York. The first show is on Saturday November 7, at 8 p.m. and the second is on Sunday November 8, at 4.30 p.m. If you hope to snap up a ticket last minute, don’t bother, they’re sold out. And none will be sold at the door.

The West Indian Dance Musical will feature music by the Supertones Band and songs by Guyanese singer Terry Gajraj. The cast will include Dheeraj and the Ghungaroos Dancers.

Dheeraj reflects on his dancing career.

Dheeraj reflects on his dancing career.

Dheeraj, 44, of Richmond Hills, Queens, disclosed the stunning news of his withdrawal from the stage at his dance studio, Liberty Avenue on Wednesday when I interviewed him on the upcoming musical. He, however, made it clear that he will continue to teach dance. He’s only quitting dancing on stage. He wants his students to take the limelight.

The musical affords him the perfect opportunity to enter into history and step away from the stage in a burst of glory. He will present himself in a dance sequence that his fans have never seen before. “It’s a totally different Dheeraj they will see on this stage. I’ve put all my creative efforts into this show and it will be a mind blowing experience.” he said.

While disappointed in the lack of sponsorship for the show, Dheeraj, is confident of his history making moment as the first Guyanese dancer, he prefers West Indian dancer, to stage the first Off Broadway Musical/Drama with a West Indian theme. For this, he has traded in the glittery chutney outfits and bare-feet dances for the tuxedo and fedora image.

While he hopes this audition geared presentation will make an impact on patrons and boost his school’s image, not to mention his dancing tutelage, he said, “even if nothing comes of it, we will have made history. We were here first. We have worked very hard for this moment and even if one of my students were to be chosen from the cast, we will have accomplished something. This is the biggest thing for me, and with this show, we’re making way for others to follow.”

The dancer, choreographer has been working on a shoe-string budget to bring the presentation to the stage. He is spinning bolts of cloth into stage props and backgrounds. And he has cancelled all prior engagements for the past six weeks to invest time into perfecting his stage presentation. He spent hours at his sewing machine altering and fixing costumes and has stitched together hundreds of yards of cloth for background effect.

The two-and-a-half-hour colourful presentation opens with a West Indian tribute to “Vande Mataram,” a song known as India’s National Anthen, again an original choreography by Dheeraj. And that’s all I am privileged to say.

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Hi. My name is Susan Gosine-Herrera. I live in Queens, New York. This news blog is my way of highlighting all the interesting things, people and events I come across in this part of New York. If you have an interesting immigrant story or know of one or of an interesting immigrant, I will be happy to feature that story in these pages. Just send an email and I will be in touch. Meanwhile, live like a tourist, enjoy all you can, before you move on.

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