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Shane Shambhu on Confessions Of A Cockney Temple Dancer

Guest Blog

This season, award-winning artist and Complicite Associate Shane Shambhu brings his unique fusion of Indian dance and stand-up comedy to Stantonbury - in a journey that began when he was a child...

Did you always think you would be a performer? If not, how did you come to it?

I started learning Indian dance at the age of 11. My parents sent me because I was a “fat” kid and they also thought it would help me to understand their South Indian culture. When I started Indian dance classes I fell in love with dancing and communicating through this culturally-different artform. Although, I never did tell any of my friends that I was learning Indian dance as I felt that they would take the mick out of me, but I always knew that I would continue to follow dance and performance as my career. It’s been a long journey to arrive where I am now creating and performing work - I just didn’t know in which way it would unfold.

How did you start making this show? Did you work out the story, write the jokes or explore the dance, or did it all come at once?

Confessions Of A Cockney Temple Dancer started its life on top of the Lion & Unicorn pub in Kentish Town, London. It was an experimental work and I was trying out some ideas in front of an audience. It all began with dance and it was all very, very serious. At one of the performances, just as an experiment, I decided to start speaking about different aspects of my life alongside the dancing and the audience started to laugh.  I quite enjoyed the fact that I was able to make an audience laugh and so I continued to build upon this resulting in the current show. 

The show promises to combine Indian dance with stand-up comedy - do they really go together? 

 You wouldn’t think that Indian dance and stand-up comedy would work together. However, when working from an autobiographical stand-point it becomes much easier to be able to comment on aspects of my life and Indian dance in a more comic manner without losing sense of why I am commenting in the first place.

What does it mean to you to tell your own story? Is it cathartic? Has making the show changed your view on anything or anyone?

 Telling my own story constantly throws me back to moments in my life, but by looking at my memories in a more reflective manner I connect the memories to a much wider understanding of the world making these personal stories more relatable to people from all walks of life. Although, sharing my personal story on stage is a rather daunting experience.  I lay myself bare on the stage (not literally of course!) for the audience to make what they will of me and be judged.  Having said this, being openly honest and sincere with an audience is liberating for me and refreshing for audiences.

What can audiences expect from the show? What sort of reactions have you had?

Audiences can expect a unique, one-of-a kind performance that they would have never seen before. They can expect to laugh-out loud, experience a number of characters as well as see dance that tells stories. Audiences will leave inspired, having understood a fair bit about Indian dance and with a smile on their face. We’ve had really wonderful responses to the show with some saying that they would love to see it again and that the stories and characterisations were very relatable.  I feel very humbled that I am able to share my story with audiences to open up an insight into a culturally-different experience and a glimpse into the world of Indian dance.

Confessions Of A Cockney Temple Dancer plays here at Stantonbury Theatre on Friday 1 March. Book tickets [here]

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