Step up to fame: Here’s how dancers Shakir and Rihan Khan wowed the judges on America’s Got Talent

Dancing partners Shakir and Rihan Khan impressed the judges in the reality show, America’s Got Talent. Here’s an interview with the talented duo…

16th Jul 2020
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When the judges on the recent season of the reality show, America’s Got Talent (AGT), gave a standing ovation to dancers, Shakir Khan and his cousin Rihan, the two youngsters suddenly had the whole world rooting for them.   


America’s Got Talent returned this year with all the usual excitement, thrills and feel-good performances that viewers enjoy watching each season. Simon Cowell was back as judge along with Howie Mandel, Sofia Vergara and Heidi Klum.


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Shakir and Rihan's performance in the show, America's Got Talent

The young duo from Sikar, Rajasthan, essayed a brilliant performance and managed to wow the judges on the sets of America’s Got Talent, Season 15. Now, they are waiting for the next round of AGT which is scheduled to happen soon.


The two cousins learnt their dance moves in different ways. Twenty-one-year-old Shakir started dancing when he was 8 years old and learnt the art of dance movements by watching live performances and videos on the internet and during his time with the dance group, Kings United India. Earlier, Shakir used to repair punctured car tyres in his hometown.


Rihan, who is 9 years old, has been dancing since the age of 7. It was only a matter of time before both the cousins started dancing together. Soon, they were taking part in and auditioning for reality shows like Dance India Dance and Stage Vibe. They went on to win many local competitions, but it was in the renowned dance show, Dance Plus, Season 5 that they were among the top 30 finalists, and that was when they decided to move on to a bigger arena. Now, they have beaten all odds and reached the platform of America's Got Talent.


On the show Shakir and Rihan's epic performance to the song “Brother” by Kodaline, included many expert moves like splits, backflips and somersaults.  In an interaction with YSWeekender, the two of them talked about what went into making them famous and how they plan to hone their skills in the days to come.

Edited excerpts from the interview:

YSWeekender: Can you tell us about yourselves and your background and how you got interested in dance?

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Shakir and Rihan Khan

Shakir Khan: I never thought I’d make dance my future. I used to dance in marriages and people would tell me that I danced very well. They told me that I should get coached and participate in important competitions like Dance India Dance, Dance Plus and more. So, I started training in dance and began taking part in reality shows as well.


In one of the reality shows, I watched a dancing duo and that was when I decided to teach my cousin Rihan how we could dance together. He danced so well that when I took him to his first audition, the judges gave him a standing ovation and he also won the contest. He took part in 10 competitions after that and won all of them.

YSW: What are your greatest achievements so far? What does dance mean to you personally

SK: Right now, definitely America’s Got Talent, and before that Dance Plus season 5.


YSW: What kind of dance do you do and how do you practise this art? How has the lockdown affected you?

Rihan Khan: We do contemporary dance at the moment, but I also want to learn hip-hop in the future.


SK: I know Bollywood dance moves as well but since Rihan only knows contemporary dance movements, we have opted for this form of dance.


We haven’t been able to practise for over one and a half months due to the lockdown, both in Mumbai and ever since we came back home. The lockdown here is not as strict as it is in Mumbai, so even though the classes/ studios are not as big as they are in Mumbai, we can still practise a little. So, we plan to keep practising here since we might get a call from the show for the next round or maybe for a video audition any time now.

YSW: How did you apply for America's got talent? What was the process of selection?

Shakir and Rihan

Rihan and Shakir Khan take a bow

SK: We are a part of King’s United India and the people from America’s Got Talent follow our dance group.


The casting director from the show saw our performance and got in touch with me. She said that she loved our performance and asked me if we would like to perform on the reality show, America’s Got Talent in the upcoming season. I agreed, and they gave us all the information that was required. Later, we sent them our videos and they selected us for the show, after which we went for the live audition.


YSW: Did the global audience appreciate the Indian dance movements?

SK: The audience and judges in international shows really liked the dance moves that we did. They even told us that America’s Got Talent has seen a lot of performances by duos but not anyone like us. They liked the mixture of tricks, acrobatics and dance.

YSW: What are the most popular dance moves in the world now?

SK: There are a lot of dance forms, but the one that is difficult is ’Contemporary Dance’ and very few people opt for it. There are many flips and tricks in this dance form and most people are scared of breaking a bone or pulling a muscle. That’s why most dancers opt for Hip Hop, Jazz and other forms of dance.

YSW: What is the secret of being a great dancer?

SK: Practice sessions are very important for a dancer. I used to be overweight one and everyone used to tease me and tell me that I would never be able to do flips, but I never gave up. I kept doing flips for 9 to 10 hours a day as I was determined to prove them wrong.


RK: When I’m with Shakir bhai, I practise 9 to 10 hours in a day. We really enjoy practising our dance moves together.

YSW: What are you going to perform in the next round?

SK: We will be doing contemporary dance steps. We already have the choreography ready since we were supposed to go back to the show for the next round. The dates have been postponed due to the lockdown. We are working on a very unique performance and we will continue polishing these moves and highlight the ‘Wow moments’ because without them we will not be able to reach the finals.


YSW: What has been the response after you won this recognition? What are your plans for the future? 

SK: After our performance in America’s Got Talent, we got an offer in a show in USA where they wanted us to come as guests. They will give us all the information next year.


Once AGT is over, I want to fulfill my dream of being on Dance Plus. After that, I plan to become an actor, so I will be focusing on that. Rihan will become a solo dancer, but we will continue to dance together whenever possible.

RK: My dream is to become a well-known dancer. I would like to win the reality show Super Dancer at least once and continue my studies.

(The show streams on Voot Select and will be airing on television screens soon on Colors Infinity in India.)

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