In Sync: The Dance Connection of Shanaya and Shabana Makani

In Sync: The Dance Connection of Shanaya and Shabana Makani

Both dancers, Shanaya and Shabana Makani talk to each other more like sisters than mother and daughter. They giggled together, predicted everything the other would say, and were on standby when the other was being photographed, in case they were needed in any way, even if only for a few words of reassurance. At one point during Shanaya’s shoot, Shabana brought a bowl of salad and fed her daughter spoonfuls in between shots. 

I met Shanaya first, in her bedroom, where she was getting ready for the Lune photoshoot. She smiled at me brightly and asked me to sit anywhere. ‘Wait,’ she said suddenly, and patted down all the throws and blankets around her room. ‘Sometimes the cats sleep under there.’ 

She had photos of all her pets – three cats, a dog, and a parrot – stuck on the mirror above her dresser, and a coffee machine that she took a lot of pride in. She made us all coffee and talked excitedly about her milk frother. 

Shabana came into the room later, smiling, laughing, but wringing her hands. Her first photoshoot of this kind, she was incredibly nervous. Although, as soon as the camera was on her, she pushed her shoulders back, tilted her head, and looked calmly into the lens, a total natural.

The following interview has been edited and condensed.

Photography: Aakruti Sarangdhar | Interview: Rabia Kapoor Creative Production: Mizbah Shaikh

Pictured above: Shanaya wears the Lyla Mesh Ring, Baby Lucia Rings - Set of 3, Horseshoe Signet Ring, Mother of Pearl Ring, Lila Tourmaline Ring, Solstice Ring, Glow Moonstone Ring, Triple Strike Ring, Phases Hand Harness, Small, Medium and Big Narow Chimbai Hoops, Ripple Bangle, Narrow Roundabout Chimbai Bangle and Small Tala Cuff 

Tell us a little bit about your relationship with dance. How does it connect with the rest of your life?

: It’s very simple: I’m not trained but I love to dance, I love music. The minute you play music, I cannot keep my foot straight. It’s always been that way.

Shanaya: Yeah, I think my dancing bone comes from her. I just took it ahead. 

Shabana: And she took it seriously also. I’m just having fun.

When/how did you realise you wanted to dance?

Shanaya: Yeah, it was a very stark moment for me. I remember I started dancing because I wanted to be an actor. And you have to know how to dance if you want to act. I would do so many different jobs and auditions at the same time, but whatever it was, I would always find time to dance. 

It was actually my mum – after I’d gotten a job that was asking for ridiculous hours – she said, ‘Why don’t you just drop everything, and dance?’ That’s the moment I realised that this is what’s important. Dance has shaped the whole entire being that I am today. It’s made me a different person. I can just be more of myself when I dance. 

Shabana: She was doing ten different things, production, casting, fashion designing. And I saw that she was very matter-of-fact about it. She did it because she knew she was supposed to. But whenever she had even a random dance class, she would be so charged! I said, ‘You know what, dance is the only thing I see – even if you’re in pain, unwell – you’ll get up and go. You’re passionate about this, that’s what will take you ahead.’

For me, it’s just in my DNA. I would just dance. When all these different choreographers started coming, I would dance with them, but I was just enjoying my dance. I wasn’t thinking. 

One dance teacher of mine asked me to record a choreography. And this madam [Shanaya] uploaded it! She said, ‘Just trust me.’ I was so scared, I just threw my phone. I didn’t check my phone for hours, in case I’m getting hate. When I finally did check, the comments were amazing. Old friends that I hadn’t spoken to in twenty years called me to tell how much they liked the video. 

Shanaya: In a way we’re just pushing each other all the time. 

Pictured above: Shanaya and Shabana wear the Lyla Mesh RingBaby Lucia Rings - Set of 3Horseshoe Signet RingMother of Pearl RingLila Tourmaline RingSolstice RingGlow Moonstone RingTriple Strike RingPhases Hand HarnessSmallMedium and Big Narow Chimbai HoopsRipple BangleNarrow Roundabout Chimbai BangleSmall Tala Cuff, Shimoga Choker, Letter "S" Pendant NecklaceDivided Signet RingAmira Multi Ball RingVesper Dual Ball RingVision Slender and Chunky BangleMoonlet Pearl Necklace and Big City Studs.   

Tell us a little bit about BEAT. What was the motivation behind creating this space? 

Shanaya: Funnily enough, just a week ago, I had a meeting with a friend, and she called me an accidental entrepreneur, and I loved that title. My first studio, which is right above this house, started because I wanted to break a space that’s part of my house already and use it for myself. Then a lot of my dance friends started bringing their students and using it to shoot videos. Before I knew it, I was opening another studio space. So it really was accidental. 

I love it because it’s my first time running a business of this kind, sometimes it’s definitely overwhelming but I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Would you say everybody can dance? 

Both: Yes, oh yes.

Shanaya: I started with two left feet!

Shabana: No you did not.

Shanaya: I could barely touch my feet.

Shabana: She was just a little stiff. 

Shanaya: But to answer your question, one-hundred percent. All you need is music. 

Pictured above: Lyla Mesh RingBaby Lucia Rings - Set of 3Horseshoe Signet RingMother of Pearl RingLila Tourmaline RingSolstice RingGlow Moonstone RingTriple Strike RingPhases Hand HarnessSmallMedium and Big Narow Chimbai HoopsRipple BangleNarrow Roundabout Chimbai BangleSmall Tala CuffShimoga Choker and Letter "S" Pendant Necklace.

What are your favourite things about yourself? 

Shanaya: I’m a very diligent person. Nothing stops me from getting what I want. Whether I get it in the capacity that I expected or not, I don’t ever stop. I don’t expect anything in return, I just keep going. 

Shabana: I just love with my whole heart. 

Shanaya: Yeah, she knows no boundaries. She’s all heart.

Shabana: I’m hopeless. I have a very positive way of looking at everything. 

Shanaya: It’s a great balance because I don’t have a positive outlook on anything! I’ll work, work, work, and then go, ‘Nothing’s going to come out of this. Who cares?’ And she’s the total opposite, where she won’t work at all and say, ‘Sab idhar hi aayega. Everything will come to me.’ 

: And it does, you know?

Pictured above: Moonlet Pearl Necklace, Puvvu Studs, Mie Family Sun Studs and Big City Studs

What are your favourite things about each other?

Shabana: Shanaya is the most genuine person I have come across, and I’m so proud that she came out of me; she’s so compassionate. I love, also, that she’s my in-house stylist. I’ll come out of my room completely ready to go out, and she’ll tell me to change my bag, or something or the other. 

And even though I love with all my heart, she has the greatest heart.

Shanaya: She’s one of the most caring and selfless people I know. Because, she’ll be going through hell but if someone is going through half of it, she’ll drop everything and go to them. She’ll take a bullet for anyone she loves. 

Shanaya, you have a Cats of Chimbai t-shirt. The cat depicted is one that we ourselves adopted. Tell us about your cats, how your love extends to the animal kingdom. 

: I visited World For All’s adoption camp, dragged by a friend, to spend a day with cute puppies and kittens. I was told over there that all the animals are rescues who’d all gotten a second chance at life, and that all they’re looking for is to be loved. This whole new door to life opened up. It changed me forever. I can’t be a part of this world and not do anything about this. So I started volunteering. Once, I rescued a twenty day old kitten at night, on my way home, and he died that same night, but that’s when I gave my all to the cause. That’s why all my babies are now adopted. I just wish I could rescue all of them. With the right resources I really could take on the world with these animals. 

Pictured above: SmallMedium and Big Narow Chimbai HoopsLyla Mesh RingBaby Lucia Rings - Set of 3 and Horseshoe Signet Ring

What’s your love language?

Both: Getting food. 

Shanaya: The way two people bond over food is unreal. There are relationships built on that shit. The way two people talk about everything over a good meal, that’s all the love language you need. 

Is it eating or cooking?

Both: Eating! Only eating. 

Shabana: Also a long drive, for me. We do that a lot together. 

Loyal customers of Lune, what’s your favourite thing that you’ve received from each other?

Shanaya: Firstly, I’m terrible at giving gifts. If I know she’s liked something, then the first thing I’ll do is go and buy it. But the people-pleaser that I am, if I have to make the decision myself, I worry that they won’t like it, they’ll find it hard to tell me they don’t like it, and I’ll spiral. So until you tell me what you want, I won’t get it for you.

Shabana: Yeah, so first she has to buy me something for it to be my favourite. 

Shanaya: But her, she gets me a bunch of things from Lune. And I can’t pick a favourite anymore. But all the jewellery she gets for me are literally my faves.


Pictured above: SmallMedium and Big Narow Chimbai HoopsRipple BangleNarrow Roundabout Chimbai BangleSmall Tala CuffShimoga ChokerLetter "S" Pendant NecklaceDivided Signet RingAmira Multi Ball RingVesper Dual Ball RingSolstice Ring Vision Slender and Chunky BangleMoonlet Pearl Necklace and Big City Studs.   

What excites you most about the future? 

Shanaya: The fact that it’s so uncertain. I have so many plans for my future. I’ve reached this stage where I feel like the next chapter of my life is going to start very soon. I feel like I haven’t really been independent until now, so I’m excited to see where this takes me, see what it actually truly feels like to really be an adult, and take on the future. I’m just excited for all the uncertainty that’s coming. Because the way that I planned my life… It hasn’t turned out anything like that. It’s just nice to see where life naturally takes you.

Mum’s going to say, ‘I like travel.’ 

Shabana: It’s true! The only thing that excites me is travel, and I want to do all the trips with Shanaya. That’s what’s actually exciting; travelling in itself is not as exciting as travelling with her. 

But otherwise I’m always excited only, for no reason. Wait kya karna hai future ke liye?