Ridy Sheikh: The Dancing Star of Bangladesh

Bangladesh, a country of over 160 million people, is known for producing some of the world’s most talented individuals. One such individual is Ridy Sheikh, a young dancer and choreographer who is making a name for herself in the world of dance. She is known for her graceful movements and innovative choreography. Born and raised in Moscow, Russia, Ridy claims that she is Bengali Russian, as she introduced herself in “Les origines de la beaute” project, acknowledged by UNESCO. Ridy developed a love for dance at a very young age and has been pursuing it ever since. Her choreography is characterized by its versatility, energy, and cultural diversity. During a session with TINDS, Ridy shared her story of returning to her roots and her journey so far.

TINDS: What was your childhood like?

Ridy: I was born in Moscow, Russia, and grew up there until I was done with higher education. Many people need to learn what the unfamiliar situation is like for Bengalis in that part of the world.. I was the only one my age there in the Bengali community. I studied in a native school in Moscow, where my primary language was Russian and went to a music school. Everything I know about Bangladeshi culture is only because of my parent’s efforts. My mother always wanted me to remember my roots and that I belonged to Bangladesh.

TINDS: When did you move back to Bangladesh?

Ridy: It was never the plan to return to Bangladesh and settle. After participating in a few dance reality shows in Europe and even getting an invitation from India, my mother suggested I try my luck at a Bengali dance reality show called ‘Shera Nachiye‘ first. I didn’t know how the industry worked in South Asia, but I was curious. When I participated and later won the show, I started getting a lot of work offers from Bangladesh. Then, I started going back and forth to visit my family in Europe and return to Bangladesh often. Then I also was a part of a show in the heart of Bollywood – #1 dance reality show in India “Dance Plus” as a member of the multinational dance crew “House of Suraj”. This project heavily heated up my popularity in the South Asian region. Later on when COVID hit, I got settled in Bangladesh without planning to do so.

Ridy Sheikh: The Dancing Star of Bangladesh
Ridy Sheikh: The Dancing Star of Bangladesh

TINDS: 3 words that describe you the best.

Ridy:  Kind and honest achiever.

TINDS: What would you say is your worst quality?

Ridy: The fact that I am very honest, I guess.

TINDS: How were you introduced to dancing? Tell us a little about the start.

Ridy: I have been dancing since I was five years of age. It is a talent I was born with. While my parents wanted me to be a musician instead. I went to music school for eight long years, and technically I am a professionally trained musician, I can even play the piano and used to sing in a classical European choir. Funnily enough, when it comes to dance, I never had a comprehensive formal education or training in that regard. It was instead more of an extracurricular activity. After a while, it became evident that I had an enormous passion for dancing, and everything came relatively easy. Later on I also studied for International Economic Relations at university.

TINDS: When did you start posting videos on YouTube?

Ridy: I started my Youtube channel and posted videos there in 2007. My mother opened the account because I already had so many videos of my stage performances by then. I was in grade seven or eight during that time. Many people needed to become more familiar with and active on the platform back then. I became trendy amongst the Bengalis living in Europe because people back then did not have a lot of sources for traditional Bengali entertainment, and I’d post different kinds of videos like folk dance and whatnot. I started noticing that many Bengali events would have performances, and they’d copy my choreography from the videos I posted earlier.

Ridy Sheikh: The Dancing Star of Bangladesh
Ridy Sheikh: The Dancing Star of Bangladesh

TINDS: How’d you compare living in Moscow to living in Bangladesh?

Ridy: I always had kind of an identity crisis, initially in a negative way, then later in a positive way. Expats living in the US or Europe often say they belong there, but I could never do so because it is not in the Russian culture. The people around me always loved me. I never faced any racism because people there love South-Asian culture. I think I was formed and shaped in Russia but did not fully belong in the back of my head. I had a cultural shock when I came to Bangladesh. I was raised in a very controlled environment by my parents. I always saw Bangladesh differently, not being around here. When I arrived, I started evolving and exploring; it felt like the right place to be. My friends say I have the best features of the Russian culture & mentality and the Bangladeshi mindset by blood, which makes me unique.

TINDS: What would you be if not a dancer or a choreographer?

Ridy: It’s a difficult question because I love to do anything and everything. If not a dancer, I would probably go on to continue my corporate career. I used to work in the corporate sector before coming to Bangladesh. I was an executive search HR manager , but I wouldn’t have stuck to HR. I think I’d probably have moved to something related to marketing or branding.

Ridy Sheikh: The Dancing Star of Bangladesh

TINDS: You have recently started your clothing brand ‘GEMINI’. How’s that working out for you?

Ridy: My zodiac sign is Gemini, and I genuinely believe I am one, not because of my two personalities but because of my nationalities. I always wanted to design clothes, and being in Bangladesh, not getting my hands on stuff I would like to wear inspired me to start my brand. It’s not about being fancy but more about the availability. I thought of designing clothes that I’d wear.

TINDS: The dance industry here in Bangladesh has a lot of potential to grow. What do you have to say about that?

Dancing Star
Ridy Sheikh: The Dancing Star of Bangladesh

Ridy: There are a lot of talented people around us. However, there are only so many platforms available to grow. That is one of the reasons why I launched my Dance School, Ridy Sheikh Starbase Dance Studio, very recently. We have a great future if we can adequately nurture our talents, and that’s what I aim to do with my institution. Now, it’s no longer national. Instead, it is a global competition because of the power of social media. People need to know the basics more, whereas only a few have access to proper dance education because it’s outside the traditional platforms that we have. If people were aware of how to pursue a dance career, and if I can help them showcase my experience and promote dance as an art and promising career, I am confident the industry will grow.

TINDS: What have been your struggles coming this far?

Ridy: For dancers, our instrument is our body. I had a knee injury for which I could not dance for two consecutive years, which was severely mentally depressing. It was the same time I grew as a choreographer because I couldn’t dance but could create formations, explore music and direct other dancers. It is very challenging, and one has to be very careful about their health and take good care of their physique because if something goes wrong, one won’t be able to dance.

Ridy Sheikh: The Dancing Star of Bangladesh

TINDS: What would your advice be to young dancers?

Ridy: Train. Learn. Be disciplined and know that if a small brown girl from a “white” country could make it to the international platforms all alone, you can make it too or even exceed this bar.

Find Her

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ridysheikh

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ridysheikh/

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