In this 6th blog of the series, our weekly blogs will focus on giving tips for teaching different genres of world-music or dance in the classroom. This week’s blog is written by our head of dance, Dr Rosaria Gracia who has a wealth of experience teaching Bollywood dance in the classroom.
Wear comfortable clothes and trainers or barefoot.
Posture: stylised and upright, yet playful. Soft knees at all times and movement tends to go upwards, e.g. in Bhangra dance there is a fair deal of jumping which is best done as if were skipping as it saves energy and it reduces the impact on the joints.
Use of torso: isolation and using of the core.
Use of individual body parts: limbs are an extension of the main body and the action comes from the centre of the body. Big angles with the arms and straight posture of the upper body with strong isolation of the lower part; engagement of hands and facial expressions to support the storytelling of the dance; soft joints (knees and shoulders) to facilitate quick jumps in Bhangra.
Rhythm: 4, although sometimes there are playful uses of 6/8
Use of space straight lines; formations of 8; alternate lines position; circle formations and diagonals
Focus in the isolation between the different parts of the body; fluidity at the change of the movements so there is not staccato break when there is a transition in the sequences; seamless transition from one movement to the next and the same is applicable to the formations.
Dynamic range: ability to combine the elegance and playfulness of Bollywood with the more energetic and aerobic moves of Bhangra. For both, ability to mix the fluidity of the dance with the precision in the movement.
Facial expression: relaxed and confident; ability to engage in the storytelling using eyes and eyebrows.
The term Bollywood was created by combining two names, Bombay (currently Mumbai) and Hollywood, to illustrate the fact that is the largest film industry in the world in terms of the number of films produced and the number of tickets sold each year.
There are similar phenomena around other geographical areas, such as Nollywood and Ghallywood ((Nigerian and Ghanaian film industries)
As there is always a strong component of music and dance, Bollywood started to be also associated with the performances in the films. Traditionally the music and dance genres were mostly associated with Classical and Folk dances such as Kathak, Odissi and Bharata Natyam. However in the late 50s and 60s, the dance genre started to evolve and other dance styles started to be integrated, such as folk, cabaret, disco and at a later stage Jazz, Hip-hop, Arabic and Latin Forms.
Currently Bollywood Dance is still influenced by Western culture. Elements include the use of frequent costume and location changes during dances, as well as the use of larger dance troupes. And the movements have become more bold & extroverted to capture the audience’s attention. The Evolution of Bollywood Dance is a process that is entirely Indian and yet cross-cultural at the same time.
In addition, the workshop will also explore Bhangra, which is a folk dance and music of the Punjab (northwestern India and northeastern Pakistan).
It enjoys an immense following in South Asia and within the South Asian diaspora, as well as in the USA where there are popular Bhangra crew competitions.
The term bhangra originally designated a particular dance performed by Sikh and Muslim men in the farming districts of the Punjab region of South Asia. The dance was associated primarily with the spring harvest festival Baisakhi, and it is from one of the major products of the harvest—bhang(hemp)—that bhangra drew its name. In a typical performance, several dancers executed vigorous kicks, leaps, and bends of the body to the accompaniment of short songs called boliyan and, most significantly, to the beat of a dhol (double-headed drum) which imbues the music with a syncopated (accents on the weak beats), swinging rhythmic character.
Start the session with a brief talk about the origin of the dances paying special reference to the film industry, combination of arts (film, music and dance) and similar movements that are appearing in other parts of the world.
Position the students in rows so everybody has space to move and see the leader.
Lead a warm up working through the body (paying attention to the joints) followed by an aerobic (cardio section) which could be done in follow the leader style
Suggestion to use imagery to support the movements, i.e. bangles, putting eye-make up, sailor pose, ‘turning the bulb’ etc.
Change rows so students do not get ‘territorial’ with a particular place in the rows.
As a main activity, divide the dance section between Bollywood and Bhangra, learning a combined choreography or a short choreographic line to differentiate them.
When learned, show the choreographies to each other finishing with a circle to invite people to dance in the middle, leading into the cool down.
Dr. Rosaria Gracia specialises in dance and movement informed by celebratory dances around the world, especially from Brazil, Cuba, Spain and India. She also devises and performs at site specific shows and has extensive experience in Arts and Health projects. She is a teacher, choreographer and performer with experience working with people of all ages (5 - 98) and abilities (professional dancers; higher, further and adult education; hospitals; residential homes; community groups; gyms and special needs). In addition to leading dance workshops with Inspire-works, Rosaria choreographed the dance for Inspire-works’ successful Guinness World Record attempts for the world’s largest samba band (2014) and largest drumming lesson (2016) at the Royal Albert Hall and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.