Bollywood, not Ballet?

April 19, 2009

Today I had the chance to speak to Anni Weisband, a sophomore at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Anni participated in a Bollywood music video of sorts last year when she was hired as a backup dancer for a particular dance sequence that took place in a laundromat in Alphabet City. The film was “Arranged”, the thesis film of Suraj Das, a graduate of NYU Tisch.

I was interested in how Anni picked up Bollywood dance, having had no prior experience in the dance form. “I guess my training in jazz and ballet and modern dance made it easy to pick up on,” she said. “I just went in and learned the choreography and did it.”

Anni did pick up on various differences in Bollywood dance as compared to the dance styles she was used to. “It has a lot of arm movement isolation and it’s a lot about the hands, too,” she said. “There are specific ways to hold your hands. That’s something I found different as compared to ballet, where the fingers and hands stay still. So that was something different I had to get used to.”

Still, Anni said that the Bollywood music was so infectious that she couldn’t help but want to dance. “I wouldn’t say Bollywood dance is easy, but it helps when you become really excited about something and then it starts to come naturally.”

The conversation we had started me thinking on whether there were any other Bollywood dance studios in the New York area that could possibly make learning Bollywood dance easier for newcomers. I came across the Dhoonya Dance School, which has introduction to Bollywood dance workshops. The studio is located at 219 W 19th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues.

And for those interested, I did manage to find the teaser trailer to the student film Anni danced in. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the laundromat scene, but the trailer does seem to promise a lot of Bollywood talent!

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