Dance like Bollywood diva

By Jenny Hammond (Shanghai Daily)
Updated: 2007-07-19 14:52

Think of India and many people think of vivid colors, exotica, music, beautiful women and the graceful dancing of Bollywood movies. The plots are simple and memorable, about good and evil, boy meets girl, love, separation and reunion. The eternals.

However, Bollywood dance is usually confined to DVDs and the glamor of the Indian movie industry, centered in Mumbai, formerly Bombay.

Now, however, expats and locals in Shanghai are signing up to learn the moves, with a new dance class starting in town, "Bollywood Dance."

Sangeetha Sander, an Indian-German dancer and newcomer to the city, has started a Bollywood dance class this month at Jazz du Funk and promises that anyone who makes an effort will be able to master it.

"It has no proper rules and definitions of how it should be danced. It is more about the way of expressing what songs are about," says Sander, who moved to Shanghai just last month.

"Many people here seem to be very interested in India and Indians, so I get a lot of curious looks when I take the Metro or walk down the street. From what I see, Chinese people can relate to the stories in the dance as they are about clashes between tradition and modernity, family ties and so on."

Most of Indian movies can be compared to a kind of musical. There are usually five to six musical numbers in a movie, occurring in places where the hero or heroine is are happy, sad, in love, and so on, says Sander.

"These are the songs that we use for Bollywood dance. They can be very modern, folkloric, traditional or classical and are as important a part in movies being well-received as the story of the movie itself," she says.

"Actually, 'Bollywood' to describe a type of dance is a fairly new concept. Originally the term referred to a regional film industry but was exploited in the non-Indian world to describe the whole of Indian movies and its music," says Sander, who tries to show people the differences by presenting them a variety of such songs and dances from all over India.



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