Dancing With The Stars of Florence: Meet Celebrity Deepak Chowdhary

Posted: Thursday, February 12, 2015 8:30 pm
Nicole Cartrette/Morning News

What is your previous dance experience?
My only dance experience has been on the dance floor at parties or at home with my family. I grew up listening to Bollywood songs, which are a rich amalgamation of classical and folk dance laced with elements of jazz, hip-hop, and salsa. In Bollywood dance, the main goal is to have fun while dancing, so there are no rigid steps or moves followed. As a result, I often just feel and dance to the beat of any song that plays.

Do you have a go-to move, at weddings, parties, etc.?
I believe I have had the same go-to dance move for most of my life. Whether it's Indian, jazz, or even classical music playing, my go-to move is a type of Indian folk dance called bhangra, which was originally performed as a way of celebrating harvests in India. These bhangradance moves are often described as being done in a flamboyantly happy way. The moves involve petting an imaginary dog with one hand, screwing in an imaginary light bulb with the other hand, and stomping on the ground with one leg while simultaneously jumping up and down.

How was the first practice?
I thoroughly enjoyed my first practice. I was able to get to know my partner better and even learn the first few dance moves of our song. I truly look forward to many more practices and to finally perfecting our dance choreography for the Dancing with the Stars event!

Was it easier or harder than you expected?
I was incredibly nervous and apprehensive at the start of my first practice as I was not quite sure what to expect. Luckily, it turned out to be much easier and less intimidating than I had anticipated. My partner and I got along very well and practiced the first few seconds of the song. She reassured me that we will be able to learn the entire choreography over next practice sessions to come.

Best piece of advice your partner has given you so far?
Brandi has been very encouraging and patient with me. I was worried about tripping over my two left feet, but she has repeatedly reassured me and told me to relax, stay loose, and enjoy this exciting journey which will culminate into our final performance on March 31.

Why were you interested in taking part in Dancing with the Stars of Florence?
During my young adult years, I was often discovering new places and new hobbies with my close friends. I realized recently that I had fallen into a routine and thought that participating in the Dancing with the Stars event would be a great change of pace, a way to take up a new hobby, and a wonderful way to meet new people. Not only is it a way for me to have fun and add to my collection of dance moves, but this event promotes a worthy cause that I believe very strongly in, which is the improvement of education. If I can be a part of an event that spreads awareness for the importance of education and raises money to help improve it, while giving people a night of fun and entertainment, I consider it a perfect opportunity to be a part of.

What do you think of The School Foundation's mission?
The School Foundation's mission coincides well with my passion for education, and my children can vouch for that. I consider the importance of education almost unparalleled and strongly believe that every child should have the opportunity to gain knowledge and receive a good education. The quote by journalist Sydney J. Harris sums up my beliefs quite well: "Education turns mirrors into windows." I agree wholeheartedly with this quote that when you look into a mirror, you see only your own reflection. When you look out of a window, however, the view is limitless; and it is precisely education that allows us these limitless opportunities.

How does it feel to be the 'celebrity' in your pairing?
I feel both humbled and honored to be a "celebrity" in this Dancing with the Stars event. I feel absolutely wonderful that this small effort on my part can have a direct impact on the students within our community. I do believe, however, that the true celebrities are the children of our community and of communities around the world whose insatiable curiosity, elaborate imaginations, and incredible ability to learn, improve and follow their dreams, whatever they may be, never ceases to amaze me.

What is your job title and your day-to-day responsibilities?
By day, I am a gastroenterologist with McLeod Gastroenterology Associates, meaning that I am trained to diagnose and treat various conditions of the stomach, small intestine, colon, liver and pancreas. My main responsibility is to ensure that my patients receive the most proper and effective care that each and every one of them deserves. I would particularly like to emphasize the importance of early colon screening as it is highly effective in preventing the third most common cause of cancer-related deaths. Receiving a simple colonoscopy procedure every few years after the age of 50 can help reduce your risk by approximately 90 percent; and since March is colon cancer awareness month, I highly recommend that everyone make an effort to be safe and get checked even if symptoms are not present.

Dr. Deepak Chowdhary and his partner Brandi Williamson will be dancing to Dilliwaali Girlfriend.

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