As the director of Nupur Dance, Jinnie knows how to shake, shimmy and shine on stage with a bold Bollywood twist. We caught up with the talented entrepreneur as she launches her own eponymous brand, proving there’s more to Jinnie than already meets the eye.
I AM STARSTRUCK: When and how did Nupur start?
JINNIE: Nupur was started by my Mum Manjusha De about 20 years ago. When we first migrated to Australia, the Indian community was significantly smaller. Aside from Indian classical dance forms there wasn’t many options to explore other genres of Indian dance. The Bollywood industry had only just began emerging.
Nupur was created to provide a platform to experiment with new genres of fusion Indian / Bollywood styles of dance while still preserving our heritage and connecting like-minded people. I come from a family of dancers. The love and passion for dance strongly bond us together and today I am proud to continue that legacy.
I AM STARSTRUCK: What sets the dance company apart from your competitors?
JINNIE: Nupur offers the knowledge, expertise and experience of two generations. We have continued to evolve, grow and reinvent ourselves which is why we are one of the longest standing dance academies in Sydney, Australia.
Our students are provided with such vast and diverse opportunities – from being a part of the Opening Ceremony of 2000 Sydney Olympics to working with internationally acclaimed artists such as AR Rahman, TV productions (Nickelodeon, Kerri-Anne Show, and television commercials), performing internationally, high end Indian couture fashion shows and much more.
We don’t just attract world class dancers but create them. It is so rewarding to experience the journey of our students spreading their wings and transforming to sensational, talented performing artists.
I AM STARSTRUCK: What do you love most about what you do?
JINNIE: Dance has always been something which has kept me centred and is very much a part of my DNA. It has been a great outlet and created opportunities to meet so many interesting people and has provided once in a life time experiences. There is never a dull moment.
Most importantly it has been a great way to connect with people and make a profound impact in their lives.
I AM STARSTRUCK: Tell us about your upcoming projects and the new JINNIE brand?
JINNIE: The new brand JINNIE is all about getting everyone acquainted with other aspects of me. It is an extension of my work with Nupur Dance but will also include my passion for other facets of entertainment and fashion, and I’ll be collaborating with other local artists and small businesses.
I was recently invited to choreograph a fashion show for a high-end Indian couture brand Art Karat at the launch of Who’s Who Indian Executive Club Sydney. It was a lot of fun and pushed me to explore new things along the way.
I am also working on a music video in conjunction with a very talented local media production company which I’m very excited about so watch this space!
I AM STARSTRUCK: Who and what inspires your choreography?
JINNIE: I draw inspiration from many sources. Like any Bollywood fan I of course have my favourite celebrities (Priyanka Chopra, Katrina Kaif, Hrithik Roshan, John Abraham) however what inspires me the most is watching various talent shows in Australia and globally such as So You Think You Can Dance, Dance India Dance, Got Talent franchise.
These are real people courageous enough to follow their dreams, putting themselves out there and doing what sets their soul on fire. I love watching their journey and hearing their success stories.
In the Hollywood arena, it would have to be J-Lo (Jennifer Lopez) hands down. Her presence, energy and the way she connects with her audience to me is just mesmerising. She is just an all-round super woman who has continued to evolve, reinvent herself and just get better with age (#girlcrush).
I also absolutely love watching live productions of all genres. Top of my list would have to be Cirque Du Soleil in Las Vegas. Particularly their Le Reve and O productions. Their visual and production value is mind-blowing. Having been brought up in a diverse multicultural society, I am really drawn to anything creative which incorporates diversity/cross cultural influences.
I AM STARSTRUCK: What’s your favourite type of dance?
JINNIE: I have a few but on the top of my list would have to be Bollywood, belly dancing and salsa.
What I love about these styles is the spectrum of emotions they can bring out in the moves and their music. Their rich culture really resonates and inspires me. I am just transported to another world. Whether the choreography is simple or technical, these genres of dance are still really beautiful to watch.
I AM STARSTRUCK: If you could work with a Bollywood star and choreograph a dance for them, who would the star be and why?
JINNIE: I would have to say Priyanka Chopra. Besides being one of the most beautiful women in the world, her skill set is so diverse – she’s a model, actor, dancer and singer.
She excels in both the traditional and western genre of Bollywood. I like her out of the box approach. Now that she has torn down barriers and crossed over to Hollywood, she really is a force to be reckoned with. Professionally in the creative space, she is someone I would aspire to be. It would be an absolute honour to have the opportunity to work with her.
I AM STARSTRUCK: Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
JINNIE: Australia has so many unbelievably talented people in the creative space (dancers, singers, musicians and fashion designers) who do not necessarily want to leave this beautiful country to go to Bollywood or Hollywood but still pursue their passion at an international level. I would love to devise a platform to bring them all together to collaborate and create world class entertainment.
I AM STARSTRUCK: Do you have any advice for other young Australian-Indian girls trying to forge a brand in the entertainment field or excel in dancing?
JINNIE: Having proper formal training in some form of dance is important to provide a strong foundation. For Indian genre of dance, having a classical base I feel really elevates your performance.
Get out of your comfort zone, push yourself to try new things, put yourself out there, continue to learn and evolve. Don’t ever become complacent. Find your niche and be consistent, persistent and pursue your passion whole heartedly. This really does translate into your performance.
Align yourself with a mentor/role model to learn from their experiences, bounce off ideas and welcome constructive feedback. Lastly practice, practice, practice.