I still remember that evening when I was about 11. I dreamed of dancing and I spent hours dancing alone in my room, but my dad was crazy about tennis, -it was the Tennis Golden Age with McEnroe, Lendl, Borg and so on – and all children played tennis and parents wanted their kids to become little champions. However, on that day, I had found a club in town where I could get modern dance lessons and I was ready to talk about it to my parents. Unfortunately, when I came back home, I found an over-excited Daddy who was extremely happy because he had managed to find a place for me in one of the best tennis teams in Corsica. He was so enthusiastic that my idea of dancing seemed ridiculous. So I played tennis until I was 15, until I carried out my little teenage rebellion and then tried drama, the guitar, the piano and finally did nothing but writing sad poems and listening to The Cure. At the age of 18, I took my final sport exams by swimming a few lengths and capering about on a smelly gym carpet.
It was my last connection with sport until recently.
In the early 2012, twenty years later, I was the kind of women who proudly stated: « I hate sport! » and didn’t understand how people could spend hours running after a ball or after time. When I started Bollywood Dancing in a Paris organization run by Alexa, I realised that sweating and having aching muscles could be great pleasure!
Let me explain:
What is Bollywood dancing?
That is always difficult to explain a type of music or a type of dance as it is often made of other types of music or dances. I would say that Bolly Dancing is made of traditional Indian dances – classical such as Kathak, Bharata Natyam or folk like Bhangra – mixed with Western influences. In short, you put Britney Spears and Malabika Mitra into a shaker and you get…Madhuri Dixit! But I think the easiest way to know what Bollywood dance is, is to watch a Bollywood film because it is the cradle of Bolly dance…by the way, you usually dance on songs taken from Hindi films.
Why did I decide to practise Bollywood dancing?
1- I like India, just in case you didn’t know it yet, and this organization is related to India and its culture. You can follow Hindi classes, do Yoga, Kathak dancing, Bolly Aerobic or even travel.
2- I needed to do sports. From the age of 30 onwards, it is difficut to remain fit and slim without fasting for weeks and finally lose 500 grammes before you put on 3 kilos as soon as you pass by a pastry shop.
3- I needed to mix sports and culture to be able not to give up after two weeks. I am the brainy kind of person so you can’t make me lift weights or run on a treadmill without any artistic prospects.
4- I needed to do extra activities; leaving my job, seeing people who are not teachers nor pupils, having a HOBBY! Yes, a HOBBY! THE word you must pronounce to shine in society! So now, when someone asks me « What are your hobbies? » I’ll have something to answer…at least something else than: « Hum, well, I read, I watch TV…I…I do shopping… »
What have I discovered in Bollywood dancing?
1- I discovered that dancing was natural. The gestures and movements you make seem to be gestures and movements you have already made in your life. That’s why, it is sometimes easier when you don’t think too much. That’s the rule. If you think too much, you don’t make it!
2- I discovered that Bolly dancing made me sweat like an old cow! It is sports in disguise! Especially when you dance on today’s Bollywood songs whose beat is really fast! Actually, you think you’re just having fun but you’re not aware you are repeating some movements again and again and you end up waking up in the morning with aches in parts of your body you didn’t even think you had!
3- I discovered that I could be sexy! You make movements that most of women wouldn’t even dare to show their husbands for a Saint Valentine’s night or a Wedding Anniversary! Cause hips are useful to the Bolly danceuse as the pen to the teacher or Elle Magazine to a restroom attendant!
4- I discovered that smiling without a good reason was difficult, – especially for me!- because that’s the way it is in Bolly dancing! Smiiiiile! Our teacher Vashvi repeats it all the time! So you must keep on smiling, although you’re sweaty and dishevelled and although you’re struggling to remember the next steps in front of a mirror which makes you fatter that you thought!
Bollywood dancing has evolved so much over the years. We hardly have any traces of classical dances anymore. Its more western now with a bit of folk (mostly Punjabi) dropped in.
If you see the old Bollywood movies of the 50s and 60s, you might actually die laughing watching some of the numbers.