Donna D’Cruz at work on the tables. Photo: Bizbash.com
Donna D’Cruz is a DJ of the most glamorous sort, she circles the globe spinning for fabulous ftes thrown by the likes of Dolce & Gabbana and Gucci. Recognized for her signature headphones shimmering with Swarovski crystals and global sounds that keep crowds moving, this Indian beauty is not an easy book.
Lucky for us then that we caught the jetsetter on her way back to NYC from Geneva for a social date the 25th annual Dance with the Dancers event at Lincoln Center on Monday, June 14. Maggie Gyllenhaal will serve as the honorary chair for the evening, which brings New York City Ballet dancers together with young art patrons.
We chatted with the music mogul (D’Cruz has a record label too), who cheekily said of the event, “This gives a whole new twist to Dancing with the Stars, theyre the real stars,” and gained some insider info on the girl who knows how to party, but keeps things clean.
StyleCaster: As someone obviously passionate about music, what made you choose DJing as an outlet?
Donna D’Cruz: It was very simple, when youre a junkie for music you think of any way to become a human radio station. I have a crazy collection of music from every corner of the planet. Deciding to play was organic and heartfelt, to remind people to move their bodies and shift their consciousness. It ended up being something I can do all around the world its one thing to dance in Ibiza or Lincoln Center or anywhere unexpected. This event [Dance with Dancers] is different and fun and unexpected.
We like good surprises! Speaking of, how did you get involved with Dance for Dancers? Im sure you can be choosy about the jobs you take.
I love dancing and Ive always love to dance. In India, where Im from, we have a god, Shiva, that is considered the lord of the dance. Rumi the 13th century poet said, “Whosoever Knoweth the Dance, dwelleth in God,” and that’s my ethos. My dear friend Amy Sacco asked if I was open to do this event and I thought this was a tremendous opportunity to take these dancers to a place they havent gone or they would like to go more often, to raise the bar, pardon the pun.
As for setting up for a gig, do you have a philosophy on picking music?
I think that each of us have different soundtracks for times in our lives and journeys that we embark on. I refer to myself as a performer or energy conductor and not a DJ. I’m a transmitter, in a way, for people from all walks of life…its a bespoke thing, if its a wedding or the launch of a brand or a dance for dancers I always ask who is going to be there, and certainly their age but more where they’re from it’s almost a psycho-graphic.
You own your own record label Rasa Music too. What’s that like?
Its a record label on one side and lifestyle label that is going to be doing products for a conscious lifestyle on the other. Music, whether you like Indian, African, world, Gospel, R&B…all of that is the a tool to transcend our judgments and fears and the sticky places in ourselves. Rasa Living explores all of that, where the boundaries between cultures gets smudged.
Theres always much said about your Swarovski headphones – we love a bit of sparkle. How do you dress for a DJ gig?
Its a wonderful process, I give it a lot of deep consideration, like where Im playing and who for. I love Naeem Khan and Jean Paul Gaultier. The headsets are an extension of what I do, and what Im wearing up there is like a magician in a way. It would be awful to think of Merlin just coming out in jeans. I have a costume, an ensemble, and its never the same one.
Your job is obviously the jetsetting kind. How do you travel often but stay refreshed and ready to keep the party going?
I get asked this a lot, I rest beautifully and easy and fantastically including on trains and planes. I start my day and I end my day as a meditator. I do yoga and lift weights. If I didnt live my life in a conscious way, Id be a hot mess. I play around the world and there are people indulging in all sorts of things and its tough for them, but I choose to live a certain way. When I play, I dont drink any alcohol. People laugh at my rider, along with my equipment I ask for sparkling water and three limes. I’ve never needed those things, Im very welcoming to other people doing what they do, but I create energy in myself by being clean.