Once you have felt the Indian dust, you will never be free of it. - Rumer Godden
Although contemporary dance and ballet, are commonplace for dance students, dancing courses from other cultures are becoming more popular - particularly Asian styles. Bollywood is arguably the most well-known of these styles of dance: it cannot be beaten for its distinctive style and sensuality!
Read this article to dance like you're an Indian film star!
What Are The Indian Dance Styles?
The tradition of Indian dance and the stories of Bollywood stem from Indian antiquity and mythology.
Whilst Bollywood dancing has some popularity in Australia, particularly amongst the Indian diaspora, it is hugely popular across Asia.
Hindu mythology, highly respective of the arts, claims that dance was created by the god Brahma, who invented the art of dance in the 2nd century BC according to Sanskrit texts.
Dance in India, from the past to now, has defined a core component of aesthetic, artistic, cultural, and social life.
With the birth of cinema, a more refined and marketable form of Indian dancing came about - the Bollywood style. Producing more films than Hollywood annually, and second only to Nigeria's Nollywood, film studios in Mumbai produce as many as 2000 films per year!
The most commonly observed types of dance in India came from Indian theatre traditions, as a means to tell either a told or implied story or moral, through dance and mime.
Dance furthermore forms a crucial part of culture and folklore in India. Classic dance steps in the genre have developed over many years and are performed on special occasions such as weddings and religious ceremonies.
But bear in mind that no single Indian dance style exists: each region offers its own flair!
To fully appreciate the cultural milieu of Indian dance, you need to get acquainted with the customs of the subcontinent. Understanding the Indian way of life can greatly assist you in mastering Indian dance techniques.
Forget what you know about American styles, Bollywood has nothing to do with country western dancing!
Different Dance Styles In Indian Dance
Choosing the right kind is the core first step before starting your Indian dance classes.
Check out the adult dance classes near me here.
There are in fact several kinds of dancing in the India style, like with all dancing. Between the north and south of the country, there is great variety which is influenced by local culture and history.
Often, there are similar elements in the progression of moves, but with different steps along the way: the tempo and amount of people involved can have an impact on this.
Dancing in India is a means of communication through the body, eyes, and face.
Some kinds of dance from India to know:
- Indian classical dance,
It might also surprise you to know that India has its own form of belly dancing too!
There is traditional, classical, and contemporary dance within Indian dance styles, so everyone is catered for. Consider what sort of music and pace interest you the most when choosing what style to learn.
A trial lesson can be a great way to see if it suits you before committing to a full enrolment. This can help you calibrate your own expectations and see whether the teaching method fits with you also. You'll also be able to check whether it suits your budget.
A deep dive on some of the most popular styles
Culture, where from, stories, where prominent, key features
This is a kind of dance from the north of the country, which is combined with storytelling components, combining song, dance, and drama. It is known as a dance of love, and is performed by both men and women traditionally.
It is recognisable and easy to distinguish from other types in that it features highly intricate footwork, with the dancers wearing bells worn around the ankles. The moves are adapted from ordinary gestures and body language, but accentuated for emphasis and artistic effect.
It was originally performed by the Kathakas as a temple dance, but was adopted by the ruling classes as a means of entertainment and showmanship.
This one is practiced mostly in the south of India, specifically in Tamil Nadu, where it originated in ancient times from the treatise of Natyashastra, which centred on theatre and was authored by the mythical priest Bharata, hence where the style got its name.
It is commonly performed by women as a temple dance, used to convey traditional Hindu stories and devotions, not being performed on the public stage until the 20th century.
The movements are distinguishable by bent legs and fast moving feet that keep the rhythm. Hand gestures are also employed to give greater effect, demonstrating symbols or telling a story in the process.
As the name suggests, this kind of dancing comes from Manipur in north-eastern India. Unlike some of the other popular styles, this one has its origins in folk traditions and rituals performed locally, rather than being first performed in a temple.
These dances often recount the life of the god Krishna and to pay respect, are slow and smooth, with fluid and rhythmic moves being preferenced. This is especially the case for female dancers, whose arms do most of the work, hands swirling all the while. When it comes to the male performers, the moves tend to be more forceful and bold.
A feature that typically accompanies the performance of Manipuri is chanting or choral singing to bring a wall of sound to the ritual and pleasure of the performance.
From the eastern side of India, Odissi comes from Orissa and has some differences form its northern and southern counterparts. This is arguably the most popular style, or at the very least the most mimicked one. This could be because its moves are slightly easier to imitate or are marketable, and easily recognisable given that they're based on the poses of statues in sculptures found in temples.
It can be performed by men or women, but women predominate in this particular kind of performance, as their bodies are seen as more easily able to imitate the poses on said statues. This is also believed to be the oldest surviving style of Indian dance, as archaeological digs have discovered statues in poses resembling those seen in this kind of dance.
It is particularly complex, which might explain its visual appeal. The intricate hand gestures, known as Mudras, number more than 50! So it's easy to understand why it looks so good, not to mention why it can be so hard to master.
What makes Indian dancing so distinctive
Abhinaya and Nritta
These two translate as 'expression' and 'pure dance', which refer to the core elements of Indian dancing. This can attest to what we've said above given that so many of the kinds we still see today either tell a story or pay homage or respect in a temple.
You might think that dancers either look excessively happy or too morose - this is actually a part of the dance itself. The combination of expression and dancing is what brings the energy, and can affect the ways that the art is performed.
The happy expressions are meant to convey the meaning and keep you engaged in the story, while the physical movements take you on the journey whilst reaching a lighter state of being that brings energy to the setting.
Seeing how involved the process of performing Indian dance really is then, it's easy to see why Bollywood is such a massive industry, and how deeply linked it is to Indian culture. It can also attest to how such dance styles have now become so pervasive that they're also a mainstay of western dance as well.
So now that you've got an understanding of the core elements of Indian dance, as well as the diversity of types out there, consider which might be the most appealing to you and what purposes you might want it for before finding the right teacher for you.
Using A Teacher To Learn Bollywood Dance
Indian Dance Choreographers: Your Golden Ticket
If you've got finessing dance moves and musical improvisation high on your list, see how you can get an Indian dance instructor to come to your home.
Check for dance classes near me on Superprof.
If you're really serious about your Indian dancing and want to do it professionally, having private sessions at home can give you the edge and help you become a star. The teacher is able to show the correct movements with your fingers and body to really get into the groove.
Ways to find an Indian choreographer:
- Word of mouth at your dance class or school,
- Through physical ads,
- Through online classifieds,
- Seeking Indian dance classes online,
- Through a private tutoring agency, etc.
On Superprof, you can find a private Indian dance tutor near you all over Australia for $35 on average!
When looking for a budget savvy option, group classes, weekly classes, and intensive courses can get you a discounted rate. What's more, there are Indian dance lessons for all levels - check out the Superprof private or group dance instructor profiles to see their rates and conditions.
You can get from a beginner to advanced level with private Bollywood lessons!
If you're a real mover and shaker, why not look in African dance?
Classes At An Indian Dance School
To progress quickly and professionally, classes at an Indian dance centre can get you to grips with a routine or two in a few simple sessions.
Whether it be for the love of music, exercise, or just wanting to learn something new, Indian dance classes can accomodate everyone. The whole family can enjoy Indian dancing lessons, from child to teenager to adult lessons, for couples, and even for seniors!
Here are some dance centres where you can learn Indian dance in the UK:
- Bollywood Dance School in Glen Waverley VIC or Parramatta NSW
- IDS at various locations across Sydney
- Chandralaya in Bentleigh VIC
- The Dance Touch in Perth
- Narthanalaya in Canning Vale WA
- Let's Bollywood in Bridgeman Downs QLD
- Dance Masala in Fortitude Valley QLD
- Canberra School of Bollywood Dancing
- Fusion Beats in Adelaide
- Mudra Dance Academy in Enfield SA
For the more budget conscious, a local Indian cultural and heritage centre offers such activities for a reduced rate and is usually subsidised by the local government.
This is the perfect means of taking Indian dance classes at a reasonable price!
Indian dance to oriental dance might not be as different as you thought.
Teaching Yourself Indian Dance
Videos Online For Learning Indian Dance
The online age offers us even more means of getting into what we love. There are hundreds of digital resources for you to explore your love of Bollywood dance steps (maybe even some online salsa, Zumba, or Thai dance classes while you're at it?).
Nevertheless, the quickest and most thorough progress typically occurs with in person dance classes somewhere across Australia. To get the most of the basics though, check out the expansive range of dance courses in the online sphere.
You can access these videos easily and many are free, which is a great way to keep children and adults alike entertained.
Some of the most popular Indian dance Youtubers include:
- Dance with Abby,
- RSU Dance Company,
- Good Indian Girl Videos,
- Manpreet Toor,
- Lasya Dance,
- Bollywood Dance,
- Pop Sugar Fitness,
- Columbia Missouri,
- Devesh Mirchandani,
- Akshay Yogesh Bhosale,
- Bharat Yoga, etc.
It is worth bearing in mind that videos on Youtube cater brilliantly to beginners but you will really need to look into in-person classes once you become more advanced.
If you're wanting more between your traditional Indian dance lessons, then don't hesitate to use online tutorials and videos to practice, but they should not make up the core element of your lessons.
You might be keen to see Irish dancing, also with tutorials online.
Apps To Learn Bollywood Dance
It doesn't get any handier than learning to dance with your smartphone now, does it?
Discover the different kinds of online dance classes here!
Kathakali, Kuchipudi, Odissi or Bharatnatyam: some well reputed apps for mastering any type or level of dance all have different classes in different kinds of dance from across India.
Some of these free apps even have Sanskrit recitations and incantations to sing along with while dancing so you can really feel the deep cultural element of your Indian musical experience!
A non-exhaustive list of recommended apps for learning to dance like a native are:
- Khatakali Hindi Dance,
- Indian Classical Dance,
- Bollywood Dance Workout,
- India Folk Dance,
- Bollywood Punjabi,
- Indian Dance Choreography,
- Hindi Dance Tutorials,
- Indian Wedding Dance,
- Bollywood Dance Fitness, etc.
For die-hard Bollywood fans, certain apps have dedicated lessons based on famous Bollywood songs.
For the non-connoisseurs amongst us, these apps should be fantastic for introducing you to Bollywood hits and expanding your musical horizons, all while adapting the music to your tastes and crafting dance routines around this.
On Superprof, you'll find plenty of instructors for Indian dance, Spanish dance or even Zumba classes!
No need to go trawling through the internet now - we've given you plenty to help you discover Indian dance classes near you or even in your own home. From Brisbane to Bendigo, you'll be able to look in the right places to live your Bollywood dreams!
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