Bollywood Dance facts

October 21, 2022
Bridget Riley s Encircling

Sport is culture โ€“ a fact that may not be apparent at first glance. But this cultural dimension becomes visible in sports like dancing. Bollywood dance is one example of a very traditional form of dance that has arrived in our modern age.

The Hindi film industry, also known as the Bollywood film industry, is the world's largest film industry and tremendously significant as an Indian cultural phenomenon as well. Movies set the tone for events in popular Indian culture and shape taste and ideals of beauty. Indians adore their actors as icons and their actions have a huge impact on the daily lives of Indian citizens. The industry's feature elements are not always comprehensible to everyone, especially to people not familiar with Indian culture. One reason is that the patterns shown are based both on Indian traditions on the one hand and extremely modern elements on the other. The only thing that can always be relied on is the fact that every Bollywood movie has at least one dance scene.

Bollywood dance โ€“ a mash-up of different dance styles from all over the world

In the beginning of Bollywood history, dance choreography was mainly influenced by traditional Indian dance styles. Today the influence of classical Indian dance is still visible, but so are contemporary and Western dance styles. Thus "there is no Bollywood dance as such", according to Longinus Fernandes, a Bollywood choreographer. He worked on Slumdog Millionaire (2009) and won one of the highest Indian choreography awards, the Filmfare Best Choreography Award 2009. According to him, the central characteristics of Bollywood dance and his work are: "style, grace and elegance". Beyond that "anything goes, as long as the story requires it", he says. But he also concedes that there are some exceptions to the rule, like nudity, "something that would certainly not be accepted." Dance is an important part of the acting syllabus in India. However Longinus Fernandes says anyone can execute his choreography, so an actor or actress does not have to be a perfect dancer. Nowadays Bollywood dance is certainly not the most complex kind of dancing. It may vary in part depending on the actors' or dancers' personal abilities and the choreographer's style, but mostly it depends on the genre of the movie and the story content.

Stories told through dancing

The narrative element is a main feature of Bollywood dance. Motion and story are linked and a dance scene usually moves the story forward. In this sense, Bollywood dance is like traditional Indian dances. India has a long tradition of dance in which the story was and still is very important. Kathak is one of the oldest dance traditions from northern India. The word derives from the Hindi word for "telling stories". The Berlin-based Kathak dancer and choreographer Ionna Srinivasan explains that compared to Kathak, Bollywood dance is more commercial and "choreographed through and through". "Since you often see people dancing in a crowd in Bollywood movies, " she explains, there is no room for improvisation, as in traditional dancing. "A soloist Kathak dancer", she says, "is very open to improvisation and reacts to the audience and the the musicians", while in a Bollywood production the choreography is set before shooting begins. The circumstances, time schedules and need for coordination lead to pre-determined movements. Bollywood dance follows its own market demands. To summarize: Narration is always more important in Bollywood dance than technique and abstraction. Bollywood dance is entertaining, commercial, comprehensible for everyone and consists of a mixture of elements.

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Bollywood - Bandari dance fusion by Apsara
Bollywood - Bandari dance fusion by Apsara
Hrithik Roshan the Bollywood Superstar | Interesting Facts
Hrithik Roshan the Bollywood Superstar | Interesting Facts ...
Bollywood cinema: 10 lesser-known facts
Bollywood cinema: 10 lesser-known facts

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