Elements of Bollywood Dance

Re-defining traditional Bollywood at the Mona Khan Company Fall Showcase 2012.

Re-defining traditional Bollywood at the Mona Khan Company Fall Showcase 2012.

Bollywood is constantly changing and evolving into a dynamic dance form. Gone are the days where Bollywood dance could be defined by a boy and a girl running around a tree. Bollywood today is so much more…

There are various elements in Bollywood, common to those in other dance forms. These are time, space & energy. In terms of the element of time, Bollywood Dance is extremely rhythmic and defined by the structure of the music. One usually sees strong accents and repeating patterns of movement. Space can be utilized in various ways in terms of direction, level, size of the movement and whether one travels or dances in place. Energy refers to the quality of the movement; whether it is strong or gentle, light or weighted, bound or fluid. Bollywood is usually considered to be a highly energetic dance form with powerful movements but it also has a lot of delicate movements and subtle gestures.

The Mona Khan Company Bacha Emerging performers at America's Got Bollywood, Spring Showcase 2012

The Mona Khan Company Bacha Emerging Performers at “America’s Got Bollywood”, Spring Showcase 2012

Besides the traditional elements of movements, another element unique to Bollywood (and other Indian dance forms) is the performance, which consists of the expressions and the body language. The use of the face to express a thought, an idea or an emotion is almost always used in Bollywood. Hand gestures or mudras can create imagery and the body language really brings out the essence of the dance. Dancers also sometimes lip sync the words of the song, much like the actors do in the Bollywood movies. Since Bollywood dance pieces can be dramatically different, these elements convey the character and emotions of the dancer.

Re-creating the Mughal era in "America's Got Bollywood", Spring Showcase 2012

Re-creating the Mughal era in “America’s Got Bollywood”, Spring Showcase 2012

Another aspect of Bollywood dance performance is the costuming and production. Similar to Broadway musicals, the costumes provide context. These could be era-specific to create the feel of a certain era. These could be rustic or modern, inspired by the costume in the original Bollywood song from the movie, or completely surreal. The costumes and production are usually larger than life. These add drama and bring an element of fantasy, creating an entire experience.

At Mona Khan Company, we are constantly exploring these elements to create work that is new, exciting and refreshing. As Aristotle said, “limits exist only in the mind.”

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