The Incredible Shaan Se Tour
This was undoubtedly one of the most spectacular experiences for our company! Accompanying an artist like Shaan was a dream come true and the tour superseded every expectation that we had. From the first show in Vegas to the last show in L.A., it was just a whirlwind of energy, excitement and great entertainment! It was absolutely amazing to share the stage with so many talented musicians and singers — Shadab, Aishwarya and Shaan himself.
It was fabulous to go to Vegas, after spending a week there last year for America’s Got Talent, this time to perform with one of the biggest singers in Bollywood. The show in Vegas, was confirmed last minute giving us 2 rehearsals and ‘only’ 8 songs to learn. So we rehearsed at the airport and then in the aisles on the flight, our music playing on a little portable speaker! Some people were annoyed, some highly amused and the flight attendants gave up on us after a while!
We arrived in Vegas at the beautiful Venetian hotel where we were staying and performing, only to learn that the medleys and sequences being sung were all different. The band members from Shaan’s band, The Groove, were kind enough to bring us up to speed quickly so we actually knew what was being sung on stage. But, we were warned that they may not sing all the verses, the songs would be part of medleys and a there may be lot of other variations!
But what about the song order? That was also changing on the fly! So there we were all ready in our “Munni” costumes when “Deewangi” started playing on stage! Then what, we had to go on stage to dance to “Deewangi” (which was at least 10 times faster that the original movie song!) in our “Munni” costume! But that’s show business, you just have to make it work. So we masked the internal shock we were all experiencing and jammed to the super-fast version of “Deewangi” in our “Munni” costumes!
Then we were told that we had a 30-minute gap before “Chaand Sifarish.” So we were all chilling backstage (thankfully in the correct costume!) when we heard the opening notes for “Chaand Sifarish” well before the 30 minute break! We would have outrun people escaping from a raging fire or a tsunami! All you could see was a blur of yellow skirts, a flurry of peacock feather fans and somehow we made it on stage!
Besides the dancing, we were also requested to emcee the entire event! Thank goodness for Amrita Shastri, the Creative Director of the company, who was also helping us with all our costumes (just 8 full changes!) and makeup. On the spot, she became the emcee for the event. As she went over a quickly assembled script backstage in a perfect outfit that she had somehow thought of packing, it seemed like she had rehearsed it for weeks. But, right before she stepped on the stage to start the show, there was a small commotion and some guy backstage snatched her script and ran away with it! (This is not a joke!) Somehow she still managed to pull it off. All in all, Vegas was definitely a learning experience.
It was the starting point and from there we began to understand how different the next performances were going to be from anything else we had done. Shaan and his band excelled at understanding the crowd and really giving them what they wanted! So, the singers and band members could change the tempo, the lyrics, the song sequence even! Within their creative freedom we had to find a way to let the dance change and evolve as necessary and somehow stay synchronized too. Despite the craziness, people still liked us and we were asked to prepare an opening act for the rest of the shows!
From Vegas we went back to the Bay, rehearsed some more, and then before we knew it, it was time for the Phoenix show. Phoenix was hot! Literally! We were all roasting in the over 100 degree weather. We just about had time to do a quick blocking on stage at the Mesa Arts Center and then began the process of getting dressed. We did an opening act to begin the show in Phoenix!
It was just amazing to watch Shaan’s natural charm and ease on stage and to hear some of our favorite songs, right from the wings! We were dancing to every song, whether we were on or off stage. At some point while were up to our usual madness, suddenly Shaan came towards the wings and pulled Amrita on stage for a rock and roll number. Half-embarrassed, half-excited, she danced with him.
In Phoenix, we also got a chance to interact with Shaan after the show, and realized that not only is he a fabulous artist but an amazing, down-to-earth person with such a positive outlook.
From Phoenix we came back home to the Bay Area, for what turned out to be one of the highlights of the tour, both for us and Shaan and his crew. We of course, had the support of our students and fans which made the show so much more special. We were also able to add more dancers and make the opening act truly grand, involving our Emerging Performers as well as company dancers, about 75 performers! The show at the gorgeous San Jose Center for Performing Arts, began with our dancers setting the stage on fire…the energy of the band, the artists and the audiences was electrifying!
Given Shaan’s amazing ability, his genuine smile and generosity as a
performer, it was no surprise that the audience fell in love with him and loved the show! It was a humbling experience when Shaan acknowledged the dancers and invited our Artistic Director Mona Khan to join him on stage. Shaan and Mona go back a long way to when Mona danced in Bombay; she herself has performed with Shaan numerous times! After the Bay Area show, Shaan and his band told us that it was a magical experience for them due to the undeniable energy in the audience and on stage.
It was with a sense of achievement that we set off for L.A. for the final show and the end of the Shaan Se tour. We arrived at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center and by this time,
the show just felt really comfortable, like it was part of us, though it was still as exciting of course! It was a smaller theater and an earlier show, a less motivated audience but some how Shaan had the entire house rocking! By this time we had developed a synergy with the entire crew so the feeling of the show was just different. We all came together as one unit. There was one point in the show when a percussionist Anupam Ghatak signaled the dancers to join him and play the drums on stage. We of course thought that he was kidding until he actually walked off stage! We were quite tempted to go but figured it was best if we just stick to dancing!
Each show was just so memorable and despite almost no sleep at night, once the music began we were just ready! Besides the honor of sharing the stage with these artists and hearing their positive feedback, it was also a time to build friendships and connect as artists. Our only regret was not having had another 10 shows together!
As we left L.A. and said our last goodbyes there were so many mixed feelings. All we hope is that we can work together again in the near future with Shaan and his crew. Shaan said that our dancing and involvement did wonders for his show and enhanced his presentation as a world-class artist…and there can be no greater compliment!
To hear Shaan talk about Mona Khan Company click here
To see more pictures of the Shaan Se Tour click here