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Dance Personalities
Ewa Maria Cherukuru

Ewa Maria, the uncrowned Queen of Latin American Style of dancing, is an extremely popular ballroom dance teacher based in the city. Prasad Hiranwar of Poonabest had a ball talking to this vivacious and stunning dancer of repute. Excerpts:

Ewa Maria CherukuruWhat does Ballroom Dance mean?
There are various types of dances; everyplace has its own unique forms of dance like, for e.g. the classical dances in India. They are marvellous and can be performed by a single person. Ballroom dance, on the other hand, is a social form of dance, which is performed by couples.

Why is it called Ballroom Dance?
The various dance forms were created for social occasions. In the olden days, Ballroom was the place where the aristocracy danced and spent their time, and consequently the dances performed went by the name of 'Ballroom Dancing'.

What are the various types of Ballroom Dancing and what is the major difference between them?
Ballroom Dance can essentially be categorised into two types; namely, Standard Dances and Latin American Dances.
Standard Dances are Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Quickstep, and Viennese Waltz. These are dances with a basic pattern of close steps where the couples dance without moving away from each other. Latin American Dances are Rumba, Samba, Cha-Cha-Cha, and Jive & Paso-Double. These dances are performed with halts in the steps and have the couple moving away from each other.

What are the pre-requisites for learning Ballroom Dance?
Discipline, dedication and rhythm are the most important requirements. One has to love music. Teaching one the right steps, figures and combinations is my responsibility. One could learn Ballroom Dance from the age of 14 years. The ideal dress for
this form of dancing is formal shoes and trousers for men and close shoes and any dress except saris for women.
Jeans is a strict no.

Since how long have you been dancing?
I started dancing when I was six and a half years old and its been more than 30 years since I am dancing. As long as my health permits I will keep on dancing.

Teacher, you are fantastic...How did you come to Pune from Poland?
I am married to a very loving person M.K.S. Cherukuru who is an Indian and settled in Pune, that is what has brought me to Pune.

What made you start the Cinderella School of Ballroom Dance? Why the name Cinderella?
Let me answer the second part your question first. My husband suggested the name Cinderella School of Ballroom Dance to me and I thought it was apt As to what prompted me to start the dance school, quite simply the endless requests. On earlier occassions, whenever I danced, people came up to me and asked if I could teach them. Since I wasn't a trained teacher, I went back to my country completed a degree as a teacher came back and started the Cinderella School of Ballroom Dance.

How will Ballroom Dance help an individual?
Ballroom Dancing improves one's posture, adds elegance and grace to one's movements and also helps to tone up the body. . While dancing the body movements have to be natural. Dancing is all about the right body balance and language.

How many students do you have?
Ideally, I would like to teach the whole world but the whole world does not come to me. Anyway, I look for students with promise. There are many people in the industry who teach Ballroom Dance but not all of them are qualified. A Student has every right to know if the teacher is qualified to teach dancing before s/he decides to enroll.

Can one learn the art by reading books and watching videotapes?
An individual cannot learn by merely reading books or by just watching the tapes. The tapes will not correct your mistakes.
It's only a trained and qualified teacher who can teach you the correct technique.

Could you tell us about your 'Zubeida ' experience?
Mr. Shyam Benegal approached me for the choreography of Zubeida. It was an absolutely marvellous experience; it was really a pleasure to work with Mr. Benegal and his unit. Everything was quick, sweet and very professional. The pleasant experience
and the absolutely professional approach make me open to future offers from the Film Industry. Choreographing for Zubeida
was one of the most memorable experiences of my life.

What is the future of Ballroom Dancing?
Every dance that I teach is approximately 400 to 700 years old. Ballroom Dance was, is and will always remain alive.

What are your plans for the future?
I don't plan. I am not a dreamer. I am a very realistic person and live for the present.

What do you do in you spare time?
I play 'Patience'. It's also the time I think of new ways to choreograph or ponder as to why a particular student has not been able to pick up a particular dance step.

Where do you go for holidays?
I take a vacation to my country, Poland, every year. I take this as an opportunity to get myself updated on the latest dance techniques.

Would you like to say something?
Any one who loves music and dancing has a positive attitude, and having a positive attitude towards everything is very important.

Interview by: Prasad Hiranwar
Photo Courtesy: Ewa Maria Cherukuru

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