New York’s contemporary dance scene is a fast-moving, kaleidoscopic arena where different genres and disciplines entwine in fascinating new iterations. And at its core are thousands of highly disciplined, fiercely competitive artists whose lives are dedicated to the pursuit of pure creative expression. Prominent among these is performer Shreya Rawat, who has distinguished herself as an emerging force with a singular athletics-informed aesthetic and high-voltage on-stage style.
The New Delhi-born Rawat radiates a warm, appealing confidence, and her exceptional skill as a dancer, singer and actor has allowed her to establish a strong professional reputation in the New York theater community. A performer whose dynamic presence unfailingly commands audience attention, Rawat can currently be seen on an East Coast tour with the acclaimed Gotham Dance Theater Company, and she couldn’t be happier about it.
“What makes Gotham Dance Theater so beautiful is how they don’t claim a single dance style, like a lot of other companies do,” Rawat said. “They are very experimental in the productions and projects they delve into, and it’s a very diverse company, from the members to the performances. I take pride in being a versatile dancer and I find Gotham to be the perfect place for me to embrace that.”
That remarkable versatility is the result of her near lifelong creative pursuit: she began dancing at six and resolved to make performing her career as a teenager. After high school, the ambitious Rawat attended Delhi’s renown DanceworX Performing Arts Academy, mastering ballet, jazz and contemporary dance and became an integral part of the academy’s Senior Repertoire Company. Following graduation, she headed for the United States and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance degree from Point Park University in Pennsylvania. Then, it was on to New York, where she knew exactly which troupe to try out for.
“Gotham’s amazing work is what attracted me in the first place,” Rawat said. “I had them shortlisted when I was first planning on moving to New York, but they weren’t holding any auditions. I was pretty disappointed—but I guess it was meant to be, because a month later they sent out an audition notice, casting for their Spring and Summer Season.”
Rawat did not hesitate.
“The first step in their audition was virtual submissions,” she said. “Next, a select few were invited to an in-person audition and I was blessed to have been among those invited.”
Overseen by Gotham’s founder-director Marc Nunez and esteemed choreographer-dancer Candace Brown, the dancers were given a number tag, followed by company members demonstrating specific passages from the Gotham repertoire, which the competitors performed for the selection panel in successive rounds of auditions. Rawat ably rose to the occasion.
“They made some cuts along the way until the final round,” she said. “A week later I got the acceptance notice!”
Rawat’s exceptional skills and far-reaching capabilities virtually guaranteed such an outcome—on a similar occasion, auditioning as an ensemble dancer for the cabaret revue How I Almost Died at Prom, the show’s writer-producer, on the spot, handed Rawat the starring role.
As an official Gotham Dance Theater company member, Rawat happily fell into her new tribe’s embrace.
“I must say we are all extremely fun and it feels very much like a family,” she said. “Each member is so different and having those varied perspectives really add to what we are trying to achieve as a company.”
“Our current repertoire for the Summer Suite Tour comprises a medley of Lavani [a South Asian music and dance form], Dabke [a Middle Eastern folk style], Salsa and Street Jazz,” she said. “We have weekly rehearsals and extra brush up rehearsals closer to performance dates.”
The performer has a busy schedule at Gotham, with five upcoming dance festival performances scheduled across the city’s boroughs, appearances certain to further bolster her fast-rising professional stature.
“It has been a season of growth for me,” Rawat said. “Challenging myself not only with the versatility of the set but also the physical demands. The fact that I get to now perform with such a reputable dance company at prominent events and locations throughout New York is a dream come true for me.”