Sian Bentson is the co-founder of Ishaara Dance Company. With an Indian mother and American father, Sian has brought a different set of valuable experiences to Ishaara. Born and raised in Manhattan Beach, CA, Sian made her first trip to India at the age of 6 weeks old to meet her extended family and dance in her mother’s arms at her first Indian wedding. Her love for India has only grown since then, having spent about 40% of her life in the country. Her Nanaji (maternal grandfather) founded The Little Theatre Group in New Delhi, allowing Sian to stand in on various productions and partake in informal traditional Kathak dance classes during her younger years, and instilling in her the same passion he had for performing arts.
Back in her life in the states, a 6 year-old Sian had arrived at the Colburn School of Performing Arts in Downtown Los Angeles to attend a piano lesson, when she felt herself wandering towards the sounds of taps coming from around the corner. Once the teacher handed her a pair of tap shoes to try on, she never looked back. Dancing with the Colburn Kids Tap LA under the direction of the late Zapped Taps creator Alfred Desio, Sian had the opportunities to dance with some of the greatest talent in showbiz, including the Nicholas Brothers, Leonard Reed, author of “TAPS!” Rusty Frank, and the late Gregory Hines. Her most terrifyingly exciting accomplishment in the Tap world, however, was being picked by Gregory Hines at his concert to perform an improvised solo without music for him and an audience of 2000 people. Training in tap strongly enhanced Sian’s knack for hearing rhythms, understanding beats and flawlessly counting music. Her experiences, from teaching tap to kids at inner-city schools in Los Angeles, to dancing in TV productions, contributed to her understanding and love for the culture, passion, and freedom that is dance.
Throughout her years attending Marlborough School for girls in Hancock Park, she joined her high school’s dance ensemble in which she had the chance to learn the basics of dance outside tap. She also focused on modeling and acting outside school, working regularly for Mattel, shooting print ads and filming commercials and movies, including the Olsen twins movie “Passport to Paris.” On the other side of the world, during her time in India, Sian has worked with Bollywood film stars including Deepika Padukone, Katrina Kaif, and Lisa Ray, modeled for Indian fashion designers including Satya Paul, Shantanu and Nikhil, and Rohit Bal, and danced for a Kingfisher promo commercial for IPL with World Cup cricket players, including Rahul Dravid and Australian player Shane Warne.
During Sian’s freshman year at UC Berkeley, she stumbled upon the event at which she met her future co-director, Shahil Patel, for the first time. It was an annual Bollywood Dance Competition called Bollywood Berkeley that her friend thought she might like, based on her half-Indian roots. That day, 2nd February 2006, changed her life. She couldn’t think of anything more exciting than combining her Indian culture with her love for performing, and joined UC Berkeley’s Hindi Film Dance team in the fall of 2006, realising that this would be the most important part of her life for years to come.
Fast forward to today: Sian joined Shahil Patel as captain of Berkeley’s competitive Bollywood dance team, winning a number of titles over her last two years at UC Berkeley. Upon graduating with a degree in Environmental Sciences in 2009, Sian led Ishaara as they competed and made it to the Semi-Finals of “America’s Got Talent!” that summer, and has continued to promote Ishaara and take it to great heights with her artistic vision, attention to detail, and her passion for all that Ishaara embodies. After struggling throughout her teenage years trying to find her identity, to prove herself as a naturally blonde, 1/2 Indian-American, and to fit into her two different lives in countries 8000 miles apart, Sian has finally found her niche in life, the perfect combination between her Eastern and Western cultures, the one thing she loves and knows best. Ishaara.