Bollywood dancing is great fun for people of all cultural backgrounds, and it’s taking off in Canberra, says Krisha Jilson, from the Canberra School of Bollywood Dancing – it’s a full body workout that’s also “silly, sexy and totally engrossing”.
Born from India’s answer to Hollywood, the style is a vital part of Bollywood movies, where dance and song play a huge role in screenplays.
“Think of movies like ‘Singing in the Rain’ or ‘South Pacific,’ or even the TV show ‘Glee’ and you’ll get the idea,” she says.
“Bollywood traces its start to 1911, when the first Indian silent feature film was released. The industry boomed, and today there are over 250 theatres in Mumbai alone.”
“Bollywood dancing is a high-energy style that uses the left and right brain function, overcomes co-ordination problems, improves balance and improves bone density,” she says.
“It has its base in traditional Indian dance, but borrows from many different styles, such as Arabic, jazz, disco, salsa, hip-hop and adds Indian spice with a bit of colour!”
Dancing, especially when it’s treated as a fun activity, has a “profound” influence on mood, Krisha says, “potentially elevating the positive aspects of mood such as excitement and happiness, and reducing depression, fatigue and tension.
“The beauty of Bollywood is that anyone can learn this dance style,” says Krisha.
“No previous dance experience is needed; simply a love of foot-tapping music and fun. The school has students ranging in age from four to 60-plus!”
Styles range from semi-classical classes, where the art forms of Bharathanatyam and Kathak dance are taught by experienced instructors; to Bhangra Bollywood, a folk dance from the Punjab region; to Bollywood Salsa and Zumba, which Krisha says is quite a workout.
“Reading and hearing about how many Australians, especially the school-age kids, are overweight and trying to find ways to lose weight, I think motivating them to join a dance class could not only make them fit, but also make them eat more healthily,” she says.