The History of Bollywood Dance

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Bollywood dancing is a style of dance that is heavily influenced by Hindu art, music and culture and originated in Bollywood films. When Bollywood dance first began it was only common and popular in areas where Indian films were published such as the Middle East and Asian countries. There is a huge history behind Bollywood dance from cultural to religious however one thing that can be stated is that the international appeal of Bollywood dance blew up in the early 21st century. The success of Bollywood dance can be seen through the artists like Britney Spears, Shakira and the Pussycat Dolls incorporating the Bollywood style of dance and music into their songs, videos and concerts.

Bollywood dance is made to tell mythological tales or stories, this is demonstrated by the dancers and performers through the use of hand gestures which are taken from Hinduism and Buddhism. For example, two hands together in a prayer position is Namaskara which means adoration, hand gestures speak as sign language which is an international language that has no cultural or language barrier. Facial expressions are also vital in Bollywood dance as they assist with telling the story of the dance.

The transnational hand gestures and facial expressions are one of the main reasons for Bollywood’s international appeal, it is a dance that everyone can understand. The success of the dance is most evident through the use of the dance in popular films such as Disney kids film The Cheetah Girls: One World which introduces young western audiences to the beauty and nature of the dance. As shown through popular movies and music videos, costumes are essential to Bollywood dance

Costumes play a crucial role in the storytelling aspect of Bollywood dance, one of the main assets in the pallum is draped around the torso in the front and tucked into a kamarbandh. The attire has become the symbol of Bollywood dance for its bright and colourful nature which fits with the vibrant and loud movements of the dance. Clothing is important as it determines the feel of the dance and has a significant impact on the story.

It is important to note that unlike the West, where musical is considered its own genre, in South Asia the relationship between theatre, music and dance is more intertwined. Bollywood films, where the dance originated, are full of dance and music as it is a major component to the genre. Bollywood dance is the essence of the film and is expected when watching a Bollywood film.

Bollywood dance is an important part of Indian culture, it is unique in its ability to tell a story through bodily movements. Bollywood dance is full of colour, showing a perfect amalgamation between music, dance, storytelling and costumes. These themes all intertwined when looking at ankle bells which are often worn by the dancers to show that the story, music and dance are performing all at the same time. There are many varieties of Bollywood dance such as – Bharatnatyam, Kathak, Kathakali, Kuchipudi, Manipuri, Mohinattyam, Odissi and Sattirya – and though they may all be different in nature, they have one thing in common, they are absolutely breath-taking.

 

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Editor 2020/21 and a History student with a Britney Spears addiction.

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