Bollywood weaves together worldwide dance styles such as salsa, jazz and hip hop, while adding East Indian Classical and Bhangra dance elements. Popularized in the U.S. by movies like "Slumdog Millionaire" and "Bride and Prejudice," Bollywood dance classes are now offered in most major cities. An easy way to get started is to pop on your favorite Bollywood movie or song and try to dance along.
Bollywood, properly the Mumbai film industry, refers to Hindi-language movies made in India. Bollywood produces more movies per year than Hollywood, and the Bollywood productions are musicals, spawning 2,500 new songs per year. Bollywood dance is the energetic style of dance showcased in these musicals. Many Bollywood dances tell a story, usually about love between the two protagonists. Despite the affiliation with movies, Bollywood dance can be a great workout in its own right.
Hip movements are a way to grab the audience’s attention in Bollywood and are a good beginner step. Bollywood dance uses mostly hip rolls and hip shakes, paired with elaborate arm and hand gestures. For a hip roll, circle your hips around like you are hula hooping. A hip shake differs in that your hips only go side to side. Add snake arms, raise your arms from the floor to the ceiling or point your index fingers up and out to involve your whole body. Tighten your core muscles to deepen the workout.
Shoulders are also prominently featured in Bollywood dance. In the movies, stars' shaking their shoulders shows off the elaborate costumes. Done in your living room, it can help with your posture. For beginners, a single shoulder roll is best. Rotate your right shoulder, front to back, three times while stepping forward, then throw your head back. Repeat with the left shoulder but try walking backward this time. For a more advanced shoulder move, bring your shoulders up and down quickly with your arms out, hands flexed to the sides. This can also be done with shoulders moving front to back instead of up and down.
The beautiful skirts worn in Bollywood movies look even better when the dancers turn. Turns can be difficult for a beginner, especially when done very quickly to upbeat Bollywood music. Start by balancing on your toes and take baby steps to spin over your right shoulder. For simple Bollywood arms, start with your hands in a prayer position in front of your chest, then move the arms up and down as you turn. For a more advanced turn, jump on your left foot and touch your right next to it. Repeat this footwork in a circle while circling your hands over your head, one at a time.
Kelly MacGregor holds bachelor's degrees in news-editorial journalism and ecology/evolutionary biology from the University of Colorado at Boulder. In addition to writing for the "Colorado Engineer Magazine," the "Boulder Daily Camera" and EdNews Parent, MacGregor's work has been picked up by the "Colorado Daily," EdNews Colorado and the "Denver Post."