Shahil Patel is the CEO, co-founder and artistic director for Ishaara Dance Company; a Bollywood group that was featured in the Semifinals of NBC’s hit TV show, “America’s Got Talent!”  The Company now performs within the corporate entertainment market across the Western Hemisphere.  With a rare blend of Indian heritage, American upbringing, and years of experience in the dance and event space, Shahil brings a fresh perspective that enables his Ishaara Dance clients to successfully incorporate elements of South Asian culture into Western productions. Shahil Patel is one of the nation’s leading experts in the art of integrating “Bollywood” and “Hollywood” according to Ishaara Dance’s website.

Shahil works directly with event planners, set designers, motion picture directors, game developers, as well as designers of theme parks and resort environments.  He has a granular knowledge of different Indian art forms, both modern and traditional, and continuously leverages his personal relationships within the Bollywood community.  With his guidance, Shahil’s clients have been able to navigate the complex cultural mosaic that forms the Indian subcontinent, staying true to that which is authentic without inadvertently crossing cultural or religious taboos.  Furthermore, they have been empowered to design experiences that are tailored to a wide range of audiences, inclusive of ethnic groups across both hemispheres.

Shahil graduated from the University of California – Berkeley with a double major in Economics and Psychology, and minor in Management of Innovation.  He currently works full time as a Management Consultant at Accenture, aligned to Corporate Growth Strategy.

“The accomplishment I am most proud of is my journey in leading an intercollegiate Bollywood dance team to become a nationally recognized dance company.  From 2007 to 2009, I led UC Berkeley’s 20-member competitive Bollywood dance team to six 1st place finishes nationwide.  Throughout my experience, not only did I fall in love with Bollywood, but I also learned the core values of leadership, perseverance and teamwork.  These principles ultimately helped me guide my team to become the first-ever Indian group on NBC’s TV show “America’s Got Talent!”  Selected in the top 40 of 200,000 acts nationwide, my team was able to leave a lasting positive impact on our global South Asian community,” said this young dancer cum executive consultant.  ”I further pushed our team’s boundaries by incorporating Ishaara, a unique company that provides Bollywood dance entertainment to corporate buyers and event planners worldwide.  Amidst a struggling economy, I invested thousands of dollars into my business, as well as countless hours into planning and managing daily operations.  Consequently, we have been able to grow our brand across the country, perform with the likes of Diana Ross and Enrique Iglesias for prestigious companies such as Wal-Mart and Pepsi, and give back to our community through many performances at various non-profits.  Moreover, we have become uniquely positioned to train the next generation of leaders within the South Asian dance community with new programs such as “Ishaara Juniors” – a youth development initiative that will give a select group of children the opportunity to train intensively with experienced members of Ishaara.  It is this type of positive impact that will continue to make Ishaara one of my life’s most meaningful journeys.”

On making changes in the world, Shahil offered this, “If I could change one thing in the world, it would have to be cultural intolerance.  From the Crusades, to the Holocaust, to the War on Terror, history has shown that some of our world’s most destructive conflicts are rooted in cultural intolerance.  Furthermore, as the divide between countries continues to shrink due to new technology and global economic advancement, the need for cultural tolerance will only continue to grow.  Thus, if we are to achieve collective success as a global society, I believe we all need to open our minds to different cultures and perspectives worldwide.”

His parents have always had the greatest and most positive influence on him throughout my life he states.  Beyond teaching him to always believe in himself and push yourself and learn from failure, his parents instilled unique values that he says have really been the foundation for his success.  Shahil says, “One simple mantra from my father perhaps played the biggest role in my development which was to be a Jack of all trades, master of none.  This guidance encouraged me to try different things rather than focus on any one specific activity.  For example, it led me to try soccer in high school, despite physical limitations related to my weight.  It also led me to learn how to simultaneously manage school, sports, dance and work in college.  My parents never let me give up on anything, and this emphasis on a well-balanced upbringing really set me up for success in ‘the real world.’   These values continue to tangibly impact and positively shape my decision-making process today.”

But with all his incredible dancing success, it might shock readers to know that he never danced prior to college.  In fact, he says he used to despise dancing as a kid. He didn’t mind being on center stage to sing with his sister, but then once puberty set in and his voice began to crack, he looked for a new hobby.  He tried out for his university’s Bollywood dance team as a freshman, and remarkably just barely made the team.  ”Through patience, perseverance, and an analytical approach to learning, I discovered and developed my greatest passion: Bollywood dance,” says Shahil. With a promising professional prospects and with an amazing dancing journey, Shahil Patel’s voice doesn’t ever crack when he is shouting “Balle Balle”!

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India West Featured Article: Shahil Patel Written by on 8th Feb, 2012 in Newsfeed
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