How I Became a Bollywood Choreographer

I did not start dancing when I was three. The closest I came to dancing in my childhood was when I pretended to be Gene Kelly and danced behind the sofa as Singing in the Rain played for the thousandth time. 

I began to take dance classes as an adult. Always Bollywood dance classes. In Canada, the UK, and Trinidad and Tobago while I studied to become a classroom teacher.

Four years ago, I began to teach Bombay Jam, a Bollywood based dance-fitness program created by the Mona Khan Company in the Bay Area. They created the choreo, and once I certified, I taught classes all over the place.

Three years ago, I began to work one-on-one with Indu Aunty, a diligent Bombay Jam student who discovered her love of dance at the age of 62. Because she lost her eyesight several years ago, I would teach her songs that the class was dancing to, placing my hands on hers to convey moves (though now she is quite proficient and instantly goes into "Jazz Hands" or "Bhangra Shoulders"). This would enable her to better participate in class and enjoy herself more. 

Two years ago, Indu Aunty asked if I would choreograph a dance for her- India's Independence Day was coming up and she wanted to perform at the Seniors' Program. At first, I thought, "But I'm not a choreographer." But I also didn't want to disappoint Indu Aunty, so I agreed. I watched the video of the song she wanted to dance to. Then closed my eyes and created moves I thought would work for her. The choreo was simple, elegant, and her performance brought the house down.

 

For the past two years, I've been choreographing for people from all walks of life: a couple's 25th wedding anniversary, a father-daughter wedding dance, a group of friends dancing at their friend's wedding. 

The writer in me loves hearing the stories each client brings, the reason each person was called to dance. The late-blooming dancer in me loves to create dances that are simple yet graceful, as most of my clients are also new to dance. The yogi in me loves the connection each person gets to feel to their bodies as they dance for themselves.

All it takes is a little bharosa, a little faith in yourself, for me as the choreographer, for you as the dancer.