Tuesday we went to meet another dance teacher. She asked us what kind of dance we wanted to learn and we basically told her everything. So she's going to make us a fusion mix of the major regional folk dances (i.e. not classical) such as Bhangra (Punjab), Ghoomar (Rajasthan), Dandiya (Gujarat), Garba (Gujarat), Lavni (Maharastra) and one or two others from the East which I don't remember the names of. And about half of those are going to be done in a Bollywood style, ha!
The first three classes we worked on Bhangra. Bhangra has very high energy moves and shoulder movement is key. It’s a lot of work but very fun too. I’ve tried to Bhangra before and failed but something clicked during class and I think I’ve gotten the hang of it. Except this one move where we have to sweep our leg around and under our other leg; I can’t get the hang of that one. I’m told it’s called the coffee grinder in the West.
Friday night, our teacher had a party for all her students to celebrate Navratri and play Dandiya. We went to Tulsi Baag and bought Dandiya sticks but we didn’t know that it was a celebration with everyone dressed up so nicely so we just came in our workout clothes. I don’t quite remember how I ended up with my partner, Devika, but all of a sudden a young girl between the ages of 9-12 was showing me the steps and looked after me for the rest of the night, making sure I got a space in the circle and knew what we was going on. It was mostly all women, young girls and their moms with a few boys here and there. At first it was just the students playing then we put the sticks down a formed a huge circle with the adults as well, the little kids in the center in their own circle, and went around slowly with different hand movements and claps. Then they sang a Marathi song while in the circle. Our teacher explained these as simple “time pass” activities. Then there was dinner with a whole bunch of desserts that I couldn’t finish. Also each class of hers performed something they learned. She made us perform our measly 1 minute Bhangra choreography. That wasn’t embarrassing or anything.
This week we started Ghoomar, a dance I’m very familiar with having choreographed it last year with a friend, and I was happy to see we did a lot of things right though our moves were on the simpler side. Also, I learned how to spin on my knees!! Go to youtube and look up rajasthani knee spin and it should come up with what I’m talking about. I can do that! It’s actually not that hard and its more about creating the illusion of spinning than actual spinning. But still, very cool. And now my knees are massively bruised.
On the less formal side of things, we’ve managed to convert the girls across the hall to bollywood and last night we found them dancing along with Mahi Ve. We’ve determined to memorize that dance and make everyone else in the program do so as well. Will keep you updated on that!