Nora Fatehi: It would be fun to do a dance number with Ronaldo (FIFA WC special) –

“To be chosen by a federation as iconic as FIFA is an honour. To include elements of India in this huge historic event was my goal. I feel like I have come a long way and was a part of history in the making”

The clock is ticking as the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2022 has reached its crucial stage. While various Bollywood actors have been spotted at the stadiums in Qatar, Nora Fatehi had the privilege to perform at the FIFA Fan Festival on November 29. On returning to Mumbai, she couldn’t contain her excitement. Excerpts from an interview…

We hear the mood at the event was electric. Tell us about your prep and performance at the FIFA Fan Festival.

It took me around two weeks to rehearse. I was juggling shoots, so the minute I landed there, I started preparing for my performance. I was looking into costumes, rehearsing with my 20 dancers who flew from India to Qatar, visuals and LED graphics – all of this took my time. I think my live performance was ground-breaking. To be chosen by a federation as iconic as FIFA is an honour. I was very nervous before the performance; my hands were shaking. But it all went off well and I am so grateful.

How did you calm your nerves?

The energy and turnout were mind-blowing. The crowd was epic. I felt a sense of achievement and responsibility. The moment I stepped onto the stage, my alter ego took over. Nothing could stop me then. I knew I had to give my best. I had to hold the attention of that massive audience for an hour. The mood was out of this world and that helped. I performed on almost all my dance numbers, like Dilbar, O Saki Saki, Kusu Kusu, Dance Meri Rani and the international tracks. People were happy to see me. The fan moments were special. They were dancing and singing my songs while I was performing. The beauty of this event was the diversity in the crowd; there was a mixture of south Asians, Arabs and my Moroccan fans. It was beautiful to see the unity, love and respect people had for each other. It was an unforgettable moment for me because I was representing India and Morocco.

Football frenzy has gripped the world right now. What was it like to watch a World Cup match at a stadium?

This tournament is a mix of emotion and excitement. FIFA president Gianni Infantino invited me to watch a match from the VIP section. I saw the Portugal vs Uruguay game. I was fortunate to witness Ronaldo in action. We only get to see these big players on TV. I had never seen a match live from such a grand stadium before, and it was beautiful. During half-time, I heard my song Light the Sky being played in the stadium, and it was crazy! (Nora has lent her voice for the song). The way people reacted to that song, I felt like I have come a long way and was a part of history in the making. Being able to have Hindi lyrics in that official anthem for me was representation. To include elements of India in this huge historic event was my goal. People from different parts of the world unite for one thing, and that’s football. There’s a celebratory vibe to it. Everyone’s happy and positive. When you roam the streets of Qatar, you see everything. You see people waving flags of the countries they are supporting, trying different foods, discovering each other’s languages, dancing to different cultural music, supporting each other… I am so glad I got to experience that.

Which team are you supporting?

Though I was born in Canada, I am supporting Morocco because I am Moroccan. My heart belongs to Morocco. The team has played so well in this tournament. I hope they make it to the finals.

If given an opportunity, which footballer would you like to dance with? Also, do you have any favourite FIFA dance performances?
It would be fun to do a dance number with Cristiano Ronaldo. When I watched him play, I was floored by his unbelievable footwork and given those skills, he will probably be a great dancer. He could even learn some Afro dance moves as they require good footwork, and he has that! As far as FIFA dance performances of the past are concerned, Shakira has killed it, she always does.

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