April 6, 2009

I found another video of NYU Pandemonium. This performance is from the Monsoon 2008 show. Enjoy!


The Rise of Bollywood

April 6, 2009

So I’ve noticed that recently, Bollywood has been garnering more attention in mainstream American media. Last summer, the American-Idol counterpart dance reality show  So You Think You Can Dance showcased its first Bollywood routines. For those who have grown up watching Bollywood films, I thought that the dance choreography was alright in comparison to some of the Bollywood routines I’ve seen at cultural festivals, but as far as the entertainment factor goes the audiences seemed to love it:

For me, some of the best choreography came from the movie Devdas. Although the film came out in 2002, I still think that it’s one of the best representatives of Hindi cinema. All the dance items in Devdas are excellent, but this one was the pinnacle of the movie. The year it came out I saw dozens of girls replicating the same dance moves for the same cultural shows for the next 5 months:

A more recent Bollywood film is Luck By Chance, a movie about Bollywood actors struggling to make a break in an industry where the lead roles are dominated by a handful of established actors, as well as the children of established directors and producers. Farhan Akhtar and Konkona Sen Sharma are fresh faces playing the lead roles of the movie, but the film’s marketing appeals by using star power:

Who wouldn’t rush to see Hrithik Roshan dance in a veritable Aladdin-costume replica while surrounded by a vibrant circus? The man is the best dancer in Bollywood! (Sharukh Khan fangirls, please don’t kill me.)

If you are  interested in learning Bollywood dance, the Bollywood Funk NYC Dance School and BAX, or Bollywood Axion, are a couple places in New York where you can take lessons. For those who are more economically-minded, just pick up the moves by renting a few Bollywood films! Either way, you’re guaranteed to have a lot of fun.

Bhangra Blowout 16

April 5, 2009

Bhangra Blowout 16 will be in Washington D.C. next weekend on April 11th, so if you can make it, go and support your favorite collegiate bhangra team!

Tickets are available through and doors open at 6  in the D.A.R. Constitutional Hall. For more information, go to


Monsoon 2009

April 5, 2009

Last night was Monsoon 2009, an annual show NYU Shruti (the umbrella Indian student organization at NYU) puts on that features all the Indian dance teams at NYU, as well as dances put on by the freshmen through senior classes. I was counting on some of my friends to record all the dances on their cameras, but unfortunately they took the wrong train and ended up only arriving in time for the last performance of the evening. So until I can get the videos off of several different Facebook profiles and pictures from everybody else, I thought I’d find some YouTube videos and still share a couple of the highlight performances of the evening.

One of the first performances was the Raas Malai team. Raas–and garba–are folk Indian dances that are usually danced during the Hindu festival of Navratri, a celebration that lasts for nine nights and ten days, each of which is dedicated in worship to a different Hindu goddess. In competitions, raas and garba teams generally mix traditional steps with strong drum beats, and toss in a few stunts for show:

My favorite part of the evening was watching NYU Pandemonium, the all-male hip-hop and bhangra fusion dance team. This video is from the Phillyfest 2009 competition, where the group took 1st place.

I’ll try to get a video of my sophomore class dance up once I can figure out how to steal videos from Facebook, or just find someone who can send me the video file.

In the meantime, here’s a teaser picture of our sophomore class!



April 5, 2009

Bhangra is one of my favorite folk dances. It’s incredibly energetic and fast-paced, and so much fun to dance at Indian events. But crazy parties aside, bhangra is taken seriously at dance competitions, usually at college campuses.

Here’s the NYU bhangra team’s 2008 performance in Pittsburgh.

Bhangra music and dance originated in Punjab as a dance by farmers celebrating the coming of spring. Bhangra became popular when Punjabis migrated to the UK around the 1980s, and today many of the celebrated bhangra music artists such as Punjabi MC and Punjabi Hit Squad  infuse the traditional bhangra sound with modern hip-hop beats:

Let’s Dance by Miss Scandalous

If you’re interested in learning how to dance bhangra, the NYC Bhangra Club offers classes that are $10/lesson. There is no registration and membership is free. Performances are on a volunteer basis, so if you’re confident and eager to dance in public, you’ll have many opportunities to do so.

I find it only fitting that I begin this blog with a very brief overview of Bharatanatyam, the classical dance form I’ve studied from the day my mother first pushed me onto a stage. Bharatanatyam is a South Indian dance style that is among the principal classical dance forms of India, as it’s a very spiritual dance form that is in essence a devout prayer between the dancer and God. It was originally a dance performed in Hindu temples and has since evolved into one of the most recognizable classical dance forms of India.

There are three major aspects to Bharatanatyam: Abhinaya, or dramatic story-telling; Nritta, or pure dance rhythm; and Nritya, a combination of both story-telling and movement. In addition to these techniques, Bharatanatyam also involves adavus, which are combinations of a series of steps, and hastas, hand gestures that symbolize various parts of Hindu mythology.

I found this nifty compilation of several different hastas from the blog Online Bharathanatyam Academy, which has much more information about the movements involved in Bharatanatyam:

Given its rich cultural roots, I was ecstatic to discover that Bharatanatyam was among the dances presented on the recent NBC’s Superstars of Dance, a televised dance competition that was advertised as the “Dance Olympics.” While the show had a dubious platform as a competition, the showcasing of different cultural dances was something that I couldn’t miss. Among the more talented performers that caught my eye, Mythili Prakash stood out as an exceptionally qualified Bharatanatyam dancer:

There weren’t many renowned Indian-American dancers around when I was studying this dance form as a young girl, so I think that Mythili Prakash is well on her way to establishing a greater presence in the world of Indian dance.

You can find out more about Mythili Prakash at her website here.