We had the good fortune of connecting with Ishita Mili and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ishita, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I hate it when celebrities say “Just follow your dreams!” The notion of dropping everything you’re doing for whatever you “love”. I understand the sentiment, but I think we’re in a culture where it’s go ALL in or you didn’t go at all.

I believe in risk strategy. I think its good to have back up plans, especially if a big risk might not pan out. Because no matter how goddamn talented you are, there are so many factors that come into play for success. And the more you know about those factors, the better off you are at managing risk.

My outlook is largely influenced by how I was raised. My immigrant parents were making making calculations on me left right up back center. It was a bit extreme and unhealthy, leading me to make choices in my career that were going to certainly lead to financial success, but also a lot of unhappiness. So I took those lessons, took a huge risk to quit the doctor career path that I was on, and applied them to the polar opposite, my dance company IMGE. Things have worked out now because I can navigate unlikely risk since the world isn’t really designed in my favor as a millennial tiny brown female Bengali American artist.

There are many ways to follow your dreams. Sometimes you need to have extra careers to support your dreams. What you think is your dream might not be actually be your dream (I don’t know you!). Or maybe you CAN drop your current life and just chase your dreams and its going to work out. And there’s a point where all the risk calculations won’t mean shit because life is just unpredictable sometimes. But at least understanding and accounting for the odds can help shape them for your favor.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
IMGE takes elements classical, street, folk, and martial forms of storytelling to explore uniquely diverse narratives with anyone. We’ve created a hybrid movement style between Indian and Western cultures that is rooted in heritage while being critical of tradition. There is no one in the world doing quite what I’m doing. So there has been many hurdles of people not understanding the reach and purpose of my work. The classical world often rejects street styles and the Western performing industry doesn’t know where to place diversity without tokenizing POC. Though it’s exciting having a craft that is so original and fresh, it’s been extremely difficult to fit into the existing opportunities of the performing arts industry. After defining, and redefining, and redefining, I’m at a place where people are starting to understanding the breadth of what I can do and say through my artistry. And thats the little fuel I need right now.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
New Jersey has much more to offer than what meets the eye. Centrally located between Philly and NYC, we have the lakes, the beaches, the forests, the farms, the hikes, and all the seasons.

Asbury Park is the cutest of them all – you can usually find me lounging at The Asbury Hotel, drinking a malt cold brew at Booskerdoo, walking around art galleries, or listening to some live music. I always take visitors on a drive through the beach homes of Allenhurst, where each house has a completely different architectural style.

Central Jersey is also home to quite the Indian community. We call Edison Little India – home to all of the sweet shops, restaurants, clothing stores, jewelry, etc. My favorite restaurants are Bombay Talk, Sayreville for South Indian fusion street dishes and Samudra, Franklin Park for Indian/pan Asian fusion fine dining.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have so many guiders and mentors – but I have to give a special shoutout to Monica Kapoor. She was the first South Asian American woman to really break into the Broadway/theater world, and thus faced hurdles in the industry that are now easier for me. She has been an incredible mentor in redefining who I can be as an artist and not boxing myself in.

Website: www.imgedance.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/imgedance

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ishitamili.imge

Youtube: www.youtube.com/c/imgedance

Image Credits
Cinegang Michael Danila Kevin Yatarola Angelo Soriano

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.