Dance teacher Vandana Alimchandani :
How did you start off?
I started off by practicing classical Indian dance forms; Bharatanatyam and Khatak from quite a young age.
I’d always loved bollywood films and music, so I began to teach friends, family and people in the Asian community in my spare time. After a while, I realised that there was a demand for these types of dance classes, in a professional environment, i.e. within a studio.
Also people from outside the Asian community were interested in learning Indian dancing! So four years ago me and my business partner Anjali Wadhwani decided to set up Bollywood Grooves to teach dancing across London.
What is Bollywood dancing?
Bollywood dancing is a commercial name for modern Indian dancing.
It’s a combination of classical Indian dance (which is the base), folk dancing such as Bhangra and sometimes has a Latino and Arabic influence. It’s fun and very expressive and there’s a lot of deep meaning behind music in the films. You can actually express what the music means, through the graceful movements of the body.
Why is dancing so crucial to Bollywood films?
People in India have been brought up on musicals and if the music in a film isn’t very good, sometimes the movie doesn’t sell.
Specific producers, such as Yash Chopra, Karan Johar generally produce movies with phenomenal and very emotional songs; hence the dancing comes into play.
Choreographers are now starting to take the industry by storm because Farah Khan – a famous choreographer recently directed her first movie called Main Hoon Na. This goes to show that people want to see elaborate and funky dance sequences, they don’t want pure acting, hence dancing is a crucial.
How would you describe a good dancer?
- Has a really good sense of rhythm
- Can project emotion by using their eyes, hand gestures, fingers, and footwork
- Has good balance and moves with confidence
- Feels and understands the music.
- Appears to control the music, almost like the music is trying to keep up with them
- Displays grace and elegance in movement, which is essential in Indian dancing.
How are your courses designed?
We have a range of classes and courses for people at all levels, ranging from absolute beginners to more experienced dancers.
Our classes are open to everyone from any age. In our classes you’ll find a huge array of people who are non-Asians/Indian, who want to know what Bollywood is all about. We’ve had Italians, British and Brazilian people. Some of my best dancers are Brazilian!
What can people expect?
I always use different types of music in my classes – a combination of Bollywood film songs to R’n’B and remixes of Hindi/Bhangra songs. I like to formulate my own routines, so the dance sequences aren’t always directly from the movies.
I listen to the words and music, and think about how it should be expressed through movement. I explain the meaning behind the music as I’m going along, so by the end of the class the students manage to pick up a bit of Hindi too! Bollywood dancing is all about being flexible, and being ready for anything!
Is it easy to pick it up?
If it’s something that’s new to you, then it’s difficult to pick it up straight away. You have to be prepared to put the effort in, work hard and be patient with it and keep practising. It’s not instantaneous and it does take time.
Do you have to start dance classes when you’re quite young if you want to go into it professionally?
Well, not necessarily. I didn’t start doing a lot of dancing until I was about 14 years old and there are professional dancers who started much later than that. For example, Farah Khan only started when she was 18 and now she’s a choreographer.
A final few tips�
- Watch a lot of moves, and look at the dance sequences
- Understand the music to which you’re dancing to – it will make you feel more in tune with the song
- Practise, persevere and be patient.
Bollywood Grooves plans to extend beyond London and run regular classes across the Uk.