Performer Shreya Rawat’s Pursuit of Creative Expression

Performer Shreya Rawat shot by Natalie Leinbach

Performer Shreya Rawat is an ethereal maverick, one whose free-thinking, far reaching style combines discipline and dedication with a seeker’s visionary, intuitive drive. This unconventional yet boundlessly appealing mixture has served Rawat well and allowed her to assert a formidable presence within the fast-moving modern dance/theater world. 

The New Delhi-born, NYC-based Rawat’s creative regimen includes simultaneous membership in three dance companies and appearances in theatrical, film and video projects. She also serves as a choreographer and educator and, as if all these weren’t enough, takes classes to perfect dance styles more frequently seen in the commercial dance industry.

This kaleidoscopic, a hectic menu of artistic pursuit, played out against the backdrop of the audition process’ cutthroat competition, requires intense focus and drive—qualities which are second nature to this exceptional talent.

“I dance professionally with Gotham Dance Theater, Ajna Dance Company and I’m also a part of Heartbreak Crew Company, a hip-hop crew based out of the Bronx,” Rawat said.

“I am usually involved in 2-3 projects at the same time. This year has been one of the busiest—I was performing on the Summer Suite Tour with Gotham Dance Theater along with doing shows with Ajna Dance Company. Simultaneously I was also in rehearsals for performance with my hip-hop crew.”

Shreya Rawat shot by Natalie Leinbach

This high energy, holistic approach has been a lifelong modus operandi. As a teenager, Rawat characteristically combined artistry and athletics: a competitive swimmer ranked at national level, she was also captain and principal soloist of her high school’s nationally recognized, award-winning dance troupe. 

She attended Delhi’s acclaimed DanceworX Performing Arts Academy, studying contemporary dance, jazz and ballet and performing with the academy’s Senior Repertoire Company. In the US, she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance degree from Pennsylvania‘s Point Park University and headed to New York to fire up her professional career as a performer.

It didn’t take long—an early audition for a supporting chorus part in contemporary stage musical How I Almost Died at Prom resulted in her being cast as the show’s lead. That pretty much set the tone for the Rawat career, and her star turn in the well-received production was followed by a flurry of opportunities: ensemble performance at festivals, showcases, music videos—appearing in legendary pop singer Madonna’s “Hung Up” clip and as principal dancer in emerging modern R&B sensation Alex Mali’s “Album Mode” video. 

“I absolutely loved working with Alex Mali,” Rawat said. “I saw the audition call on Instagram and submitted for it right away. I got called back and confirmed it the same day and I was in! The whole process was so fun, It really didn’t feel like work.”

It’s a demanding life but Rawat relishes every minute.

Shreya Rawat shot by Natalie Leinbach

“I start my day early, around 6 am in the morning,” she said. “I go to the gym 3 days a week and do my home-based workout the other days. I have all my classes that I teach lined up in the mornings and/or early afternoons, after which I head to rehearsals. They’re usually 2-5 hours depending on the company and their schedules leading up to the show. If we’re doing shows, we usually rehearse in the morning and perform in the evening. Amidst all this, I maintain my professional training by taking commercial classes at studios in Manhattan, which is also a great way to make connections with people that work in the commercial industry. 

On top of all this, there’s the challenge of memorizing choreography for three separate, entirely different, dance productions.

“It’s not easy but is definitely a skill that has matured over time,” Rawat said. “But it wasn’t always like this. When you perform a set often, especially on tour, after a couple of times it becomes muscle memory. So, the only thing that changes constantly is the staging of the set because of the different venues you perform in.  I am grateful to have a lot of experience that helps me adapt to staging changes.”

Rawat’s drive for creative expression is as prodigious as her skill set is diversified.

“I choreographed and produced a piece called Pathos,” she said. “It’s a 6 min post- modern piece which was staged and performed at George Rowland White Theater in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I cast, choreographed, staged and produced the whole piece myself. It was truly one of the greatest experiences of my career thus far because it opened a whole new aspect of artistic expression for me.”

Rawat’s layered mastery of all these disciplines constitutes a remarkable spectrum of capability, and she is consistently striving to enhance and expand her repertoire of innovative artistry.

“Growth is constant—that’s definitely my motto,” she said. “I try to always enter every project with the expectation of learning something new, whether good or bad, and that really helps me grow as an artist and a person.”