The Guy Who Danced His Way Into The Heart Of A Nation
  Linda Davis
FEATURES
May 2017

MICHAEL SALICKRAM: THE GUY WHO DANCED HIS WAY INTO THE HEART OF A NATION

Michael Salickram, the “dance guru” as he is fondly called, is quite outgoing, down to earth and very humble.

Many achievements have been accredited to his name, among them being winner of Mastana Bahar (1992), winner of Scouting for Talent along with Christine Ramirez (2001), choreographer of CHOGM (2009) (with the Queen of England in attendance), one of the choreographers for the Bollywood movie "DULHAN MIL GAYA" and working with other top choreographers in the Bollywood industry. However, there is very little that is known about the background of this very talented individual who has contributed tremendously to our country.


Now 50 years of age, Michael grew up in Malgretoute Road, Princes Town, where most of the villagers were cane farmers at the time. He is the fifth of six boys born to his parents. Michael began dancing at the age of nine with the Indarpaul Beharry Dance Group. He attended the Princes Town Presbyterian School and thereafter continued his studies at the Princes Town Junior and Secondary Schools. Michael completed his tertiary education at the Arthur Lok Jack School of Business where he obtained certification in Event Management. Paradise Pulse sat down for a heart to heart chat with Michael who shared many aspects of his life with us.

 

Michael’s parents were very supportive of his dancing. However, tragedy struck when Michael’s father died. Michael was only fourteen years old at the time and was grief-stricken with this huge loss. During the trying times of now being responsible for maintaining the family, Michael and his brothers grew even closer together and they never forgot the importance of maintaining the great values and morals which their parents had instilled in them.

Even through the tremendous hardship caused by the untimely death of his father, Michael continued to dance and improve his skills. 

                                 

Michael would later found the Shiv Shakti Dance Company. His group has performed extensively both locally and internationally and was awarded the Chaconia Medal for their contribution to Trinidad and Tobago. Michael’s style of creating Indian dance movements with a touch of Caribbean flavour has placed his group and his dancing a cut above the rest. Michael says that “Simply being Trinbagonian” gave him the inspiration to combine the cultures into his dance routine. He continued, “We live in such a culturally rich and diverse land and we as a people just love and appreciate any art form, and to merge different cultures through dance is definitely a channel to show unity and harmony in diversity. It reaches beyond the political, ethnic and religious divides.”  

Michael recalls his fondest memory as being on stage for the very first time with the girls of the newly formed Shiv Shakti Dance Company (30 years ago) and getting a resounding round of applause. That moment defined his dream to be a dancer, and it has been a dream which has materialised due to hard work and perseverance.

For Michael, dance has always been a passion and a lifelong dream and he encourages that if dance is as dear to any person, young or old, as it is to him, then pursue it with all your heart and soul because following one’s dream can only be rewarding and successful.

 

Michael confides that he always knew that he would be successful since he always had a vision of being where he wanted to be, and because he is so passionate about what he does, he relentlessly pursued every avenue to achieve his goals. Michael also credits his mother as being his main inspiration and throughout his life he would remember and rely on what his mother taught him about life. However, success did not come without sacrifice as he says that his biggest stumbling block was trying to reconcile his career decision with his family’s and society’s opinion of a man being involved in dance. He later realised that following his dream in an earnest fashion rewarded him in all spheres of life.

Michael has worked with several prominent persons throughout his career, among them being the Malick Folk Performers, the Mighty Sparrow, Sushmita Sen, Shah Rukh Khan and Lara Dutta. One of his most memorable moments is being part of a few productions by the great Peter Minshall.

Michael was elated to be a Judge on the TV production ‘Digicel Rising Stars’ as it afforded him the opportunity to share his knowledge of dance and entertainment on the whole with people of various backgrounds. He considers this opportunity to be a definite highlight in his career, especially since the feedback during his tenure as a judge on the show has been overwhelmingly positive.  

When asked whether he thought that the art of dance is dying, Michael says, “The art of dance is not dying but rather evolving. While it is refreshing to see the different perspectives of dance, it is important that we remember and retain to an extent, the origins of certain dance styles.”

In his spare time he attends the gym, reads, listens to music and he really loves going to the movies.

For fun Michael teaches dancing. He says, “It may sound like work but because I love what I do so much, work is actually fun. I also love travelling to new places.”

Michael’s advice to young people who are now choosing their career paths is to seriously focus on their goals and ensure that their chosen career is something they really want for themselves and not to just make an impression on society. Only then would they be able to fulfil their dreams.

Apart from his mother, the late Sumintra Salickram, Michael’s heroes include Mahatma Gandhi and, in the world of entertainment, the late great Michael Jackson (who he says epitomised boundless talent and was a true visionary).

Michael’s two brothers Nigel and Shammi also promote our culture but via singing.

Michael currently has a few projects in the pipeline but is very secretive about what they are as they are still in the embryonic stages. We can hardly wait to see what’s next for this extremely talented son of the soil!

By: Linda Davis | FEATURES | May 2017


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