(October 28, 2022) A dance career came through a twist of fate, when Tanishq Joshi met with an accident in his hometown in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. It set in motion a new phase in Tanishq’s life and since then, he has trained with choreographers like Devin Solomon, Samantha Caudle and Denzel Chisolm. In October 2022, Tanishq, or ‘Taneesky’, as he is known, became the first South Asian artiste to be signed by MSA (McDonalds/Selznick Associations). Now, the young dancer is among an elite group of global performers, including Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez and Chris Brown, all of whom have worked with MSA.
Taneesky is already a well-known name, both in India and abroad, as the Global Indian has quite a list of achievements to his credit. He grew up in India and went on to train extensively in New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. It has resulted in a unique style, a blend of western street techniques with Indian dance styles, that has allowed Tanishq to fit both with American and Indian audiences. Tanishq has performed as the lead dancer for Yo Yo Honey Singh and opened for the award-winning singer/rapper Pharrell Williams at the Something in the Water Music festival in Virginia, before an audience of 100,000.
From Indore to the United States
Growing up, Tanishq wanted to play soccer, like most boys his age. Although he showed a natural talent for dance, taking inspiration from Hritik Roshan and Ganesh Hegde to perform at school events, he never thought about it as a career. That changed when he was in the tenth grade. Tanishq was hit by a car, leaving him with multiple fractures in his left leg.
After a series of painful surgeries, which involved the insertion of metal rods and screws, Tanishq was put in an extended rehabilitation programme. “After a year of long recovery, I had been advised by the doctors to undergo physical therapy. Instead of signing up for a traditional physical therapy session, I joined a dance class in the area and that’s where I discovered my passion for dance,” Tanishq told VoyageLA. It was a slow, slow process. “In the beginning – and in a super-beginners’-level dance class, there was one step that took me three or four days to get,” he told Dance Spirit.
A couple of years later, Tanishq moved to the United States to study Finance at Drexel University, where he had been awarded a full scholarship. “I even earned $25,000 from Live Mas Scholarship by the Taco Bell Foundation for showcasing my outstanding leadership in dance,” he said.
Rising above challenges
Even with all the doors that had opened for him, life in the US was not easy. Tanishq devoted himself to training as much as possible, supporting himself with a 9 to 5, working at part-time gig as a barista in Starbucks and taking a full course load at university. It meant a packed schedule with half a dozen classes to attend, work hours till 10 pm and returning home to catch up with academics until midnight. Still, he would go out into the streets at night to freestyle, to choreograph and to learn.
Tanishq’s hard work paid off when he was spotted by dance crew, Creative Reaction. Every weekend, he would hop on the bus from Philadelphia, where he lived, to New York city for classes on weekends. “My perseverance started paying off when I choreographed and danced for my team at World of Dance, Philadelphia and won second place,” he said, in the interview with VoyageLA.
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However, his student visa prohibited him from working anywhere except the university itself. He was not allowed to earn money through dance. Instead, he hosted free classes, holding open sessions and putting out calls to dancers across the city. Tanishq wanted the dance circuit to know his name. And although his talent was appreciated, he was still stereotyped.
When he arrived in LA, Tanishq had to deal with what is possibly another form of racism – the stereotype. “I was always seen as a good dancer ‘for an Indian’,” he says. “This notion bothered me until I started making this my strength.” Instead of shunning his cultural heritage, Tanishq learned to lean into it. Now he teaches at some of LA’s biggest dance studios but makes sure he fuses Bollywood music with Hip Hop or Popping.
“I’m challenging the stereotype in the baddest way I can,” he remarks. “I’m proud to be an Indian and it runs through my veins.” Indian he might be but Tanishq has found appeal among American audiences too, making a name for himself in the LA dance industries, starring in music videos and taking on other big projects. “I’m not just a really good dancer ‘for an Indian’. I’m skilled and my craft speaks for itself. Period.”
All this resulted in Tanishq developing a style that is uniquely his own. The boy who wanted to hide from the world – his culture, background, country and family – became his source of strength. He auditioned constantly for multiple agencies and failed to get into any. He learned then that it wasn’t about skill, it was the fact that he wasn’t 6’2, muscular black man. So, he leaned into who he was, rather than who he imagined himself to be and began dancing to Bollywood.
When he graduated from college, Tanishq decided to establish his own e-commerce business, Asha Creative, LLC, providing dance and choreography services to brands across platforms. The big brands came calling – “I worked as a choreographer and director for a social media ad campaign for Fanta,” he said.
As his social media presence increased, Tanishq was invited to take classes and attend programmes around the world, including India, London and the Middle East. The pandemic hit around this time although he didn’t let it get him down. “I trained at home and taught online via Zoom in multiple countries,” he says. Tanishq’s dance videos were reposted by superstars like Shakira, Missy Elliot and the Black-Eyed Peas. “I also became one of the first South Asians to teach at globally renowned dance studios like Tmilly TV, Snowglobe Perspective and the West Course Dance Theatre.
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