FAMOUS Family is a conglomerate of four dance crews which are well-known across India.
It started with the formation of Famous crew by Abhishek Das in 2013. Over his travels around the country, he acquired new members who had the same vision for dance as he did.
Over time he found that he was evolving as a person and a dancer. While he still shared similar ideologies with new dancers he met, the process to reach the end goal seemed to be different. And so he started the crews Fauj, Force and Future, to have newer members with similar thought processes that were still part of the same family.
So today, FAMOUS Family’s four dance crews are Famous, Fauj, Force and Future, with about 30 dancers from across the country who are part of the family.
Here Abhishek speaks about how he successfully put together these crews and tips for someone looking to start their own street dance crew.
Find crew members with a similar mind-set
Abhishek says the most important thing for crew members is to follow the same mind-set or thinking patterns when it comes to dance.
“I have Supahit (Hitendra Bhandari) in Famous and his student Lockstar in Fauj. So although Lockstar learnt locking from Supahit, he started locking at a very different time and has different influences. So Supahit has a classic style of locking and Lockstar is very experimental. And that’s why we have them in different crews because they have different mind-sets and approaches to dance,” says Abhishek.
Identify a common theme/genre/style for your crew
What ties each dance crew together, and all of FAMOUS Family together in fact, is a uniform yet unique style of dance.
“When we travelled and met musicians, painters, poets, and people from different walks of art, we realized our country is so rich in culture. We decided that no matter what dance style we do, we will never forget our roots. So I would say ‘Indian-ness’ is our style. Even in the song mixes and costumes we choose, you will see that Indian-ness. I would describe our style as a global food dish with Indian spices. That’s what makes us stand out from everybody else,” says Abhishek.
Allow individual dance styles to shine
While having a common dance style for the crew, it is important for the dancers to retain their individuality in their dance styles.
“Supahit does locking, Killachok does Krump, Tee J does waacking [and they are all in Famous crew]. In Fauj we have two hip-hop dancers and a female Krump artist, Shristhi. People had this weird mindset that girls should do sexier dance styles and guys should do aggressive ones. It was a stereotypical mind-set but we were able to change that thinking with people following what they want to,” says Abhishek.
Members of your crew should be versatile
It helps if dancers in your crew can adapt to multiple dance styles; it makes it easier to achieve a collective crew style.
“We have someone who dances hip-hop and house. Another person is a breaker and krumper. Someone else does waacking and dancehall. So most people in our crew do two or more styles. We also have two people who do up to six styles,” says Abhishek.
It’s not necessary to own a dance studio to be a crew
The studio doesn’t make the crew. So dance wherever you can to make it work.
“We don’t have a studio space because we keep travelling. Owning a studio is no joke because you have to take care of it. Maybe in a few years we will have a studio space we call home. For now, we rent a studio whenever we have a project or practice,” says Abhishek.
It helps to have a go-to space for the crew
Even if you don’t have a studio, having a common place that the whole crew feels comfortable is very important.
“Supahit’s terrace is our chilling spot. Everything happens there. The first performance we did on India’s Got Talent was also prepared on that small terrace. So that terrace is very special for us. It’s pretty much the FAMOUS Family headquarters,” says Abhishek.
Practice as often as needed
The members of Famous crew have been dancing together for many years and know each other’s styles, so they don’t practice as often. But the newer crews stick to weekly practice routines.
“Famous crew isn’t always meeting up and practicing. We meet more often when there are projects. But Force and Future are the youngest crews; they practice thrice a week,” says Abhishek.
Engage in activities together aside from just dance practice
Bonding activities aside from dancing practice and performance help the crew become tighter and understand each other better.
“We go to clubs to dance; it helps us stay connected to the freestyle aspect of dance. I have a PlayStation 4, so everyone comes to my house to play games. We also bond over percussion nights where we jam with drums and guitars, and we talk about music,” says Abhishek.
Encourage smaller bonds within the crew
It is possible that some crew members will form strong bonds than others. It can be helpful in the crew.
“Tanuj is part of Fauj and is from Kerala. I’d met him at a camp in Delhi and told him to come to Mumbai if he wanted to join our crew. And he surprised me by coming to Mumbai. Here he met our crew mate Prithvi who is also Mallu. So they bonded over similar heritage and that helped Tanuj adjust to life in Mumbai and being part of the family,” says Abhishek.
Choreography can be a one-person or whole-crew operation
Abhishek usually heads choreography for the crews but it is more a function of the final say on what stays and goes after everyone gives their inputs.
“When we come together for choreography, everyone brings something different to the table. I may be the final call on what goes ahead, but it’s a collective brainstorm and expertise comes form everyone. So if we have a Krumping section for just 15 seconds, the Krumpers in our crew will tell us the moves because they are the experts at what they do,” says Abhishek.
Adjust your style for each event/battle/stage/audience
FAMOUS Family choreographs and designs for each performance, video, event, battle, stage, and audience.
“We knew that Red Bull Dance Your Style is more underground, freestyle and street-based. So we didn’t want to create something extremely artistic. We knew Red Bull Dance Your Style is a battle-based event, so in our choreography, we added a chunk of cypher and battle. So our performance depends on the kind of audience and type of event,” says Abhishek.
Pick songs according to your overall crew style
The music choices for FAMOUS Family are very strongly dependent on their ‘Indian-ness’ style of the crew.
“We tend to select international songs that we can easily mix an Indian song into. We’re always looking for songs where we can maybe put some tabla recordings in a rap song or a shehnai in house music; you know what I mean? We try to add that Indian-ness to international banger tracks to make it like our style,” says Abhishek.
Put work into your costumes because they will be noticed
TeeJ (Tejasvi Patil) takes the lead in designing costumes for Famous crew.
“For Famous, I’d say our costume identity is ‘Internationally Indian’. There's always a blend, just like our dance style and our music choice. Like the vibe is Indian but the costume is urban. We like to keep that Indian-ness in our costumes also. So we might wear jumpsuits for international style ut malas around our necks to keep it Indian,” says TeeJ.
Work props into your routine if possible
Most street dancers avoid props, and Famous crew avoided it as well initially.
“When we started doing music videos, and especially after doing TV shows like Dance Plus, we grew out of the mentality that dance should just be us and the floor. We started thinking about where we could add different elements and props to our performance. So we’ve opened up as artists and if we feel props will help our performance, we use them,” says Abhishek.