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What is Bollywood?

Bollywood name is derived from Bombay (now Mumbai), India. Bollywood is the Mumbai Film industry (India’s Hindi Film Industry). The name “Bollywood” was coined during the 1970's. It is India’s and world's largest film industry in terms of films produced and released each year. The term Bollywood originated when Indian film industry overtook the Hollywood film industry. If you've heard of the Bharatanatyam, it's a classical dance from India. Read more about the history of Bharatanatyam.

In 1896, Auguste and Louis Lumiere brothers came to Bombay to introduce cinematography. And, Bombay became the center of India's Hindi film industry. In 1913 Dadasaheb Phalke, father of Indian cinema, made the first full-length film, “Raja Harishchandra”. The first Indian film with a soundtrack was “Alam Ara”, which premiered in 1931.

Since the 2000's Bollywood dance and films gained increased international recognition due to growing NRI and Indian communities overseas. The popularity continues to grow along with new talents. Read more on how to do Bollywood Dance

Role of music in Bollywood films

The first audio film “Alam Ara” had seven songs. The film “Indra Sabha” from 1932 had 69 songs. Bollywood movies are not just about the story. Music is the heart of Indian films. Lyrics and choreography are carefully synchronized. Songs have given Bollywood films a distinctive look as compared to the international films. The music from movies influence music business and dance culture.

What is Bollywood dance style?

India has over 500 years of dance history. Bollywood dance style is a hybrid in its original form.

The earlier dances in Bollywood films were dominated by classical dance forms of Bharatanatyam, Kathak and Folk dances from different parts of India. Since 1980’s Bollywood dancing style has been influenced by Western dance styles.

Bollywood Dance style incorporates head, neck and body movements, mudras and footwork. There are about 108 mudras. Mudras together with full body movements gives complete meaning to the Bollywood Dance style.

Bollywood Dance is the name given to the dance-form used in Indian (Hindi) films. The most energetic and colorful Indian dance forms are Bhangra and Garba (originated in the state of Gujarat, India). They merged with other dance forms from around the world, and now is the famous Bollywood dance. Bollywood Dance style is a fusion of various dance styles. It includes Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Bhangra, Jazz, Hip-hop, Arabic, Western dance to name a few. Classical Indian dance incorporates the two basic elements of dance and expression.

The present day Bollywood Dance style has elements of Indian classical dance, and numerous other dance forms. The dance includes multiple formations, natural locations or architecturally-grand settings, a large number of background dancers and colorful costumes.

Sometimes part of the film story is told in the dance. Bollywood hip-hop dance has recently acquired much attention. 

Bollywood film’s story is centered around lively music and dance. Indian dance is performed in colorful costumes with props. The classical Indian dance incorporates facial expressions, hand gestures (using mudras), body postures and movements. This brings life to the story.

Bhangra is a highly energetic dance that originated from Punjab. Bhangra consists of spirited facial expression, high lifted arms, and high jumps that are danced to the beat of a dhol aka an Indian drum. Fun Fact: Farmers used to do Bhangra while harvesting which made their job enjoyable. Bhangra was initially done by men (weird huh?) but as it modernized women joined as well. Interested in trying a free Bhangra class?

Famous Bollywood dancers

Helen is a renowned dancer of her time. Her extraordinary energetic moves in the song “Piya Tu Ab Toh Aja” won laurels. 

Free Style Bollywood Dance was introduced by actor-dancer Govinda. His style is unique as compared to other Bollywood dancers. Disco Dance Style was introduced by Mithun Chakraborty. He has been the unbeaten king of dance. Madhu Bala, Madhuri Dixit, Sri Devi, Katrina Kaif, Shradha Kapoor to name a few, are the best female dancers of Bollywood. Hritik Roshan is considered the best dancer in Bollywood for his scintillating dance moves.

Famous Bollywood choreographers

Prabhu Deva is an actor, director, dancer and choreographer. He has created and performed a variety of dancing styles. Farah Khan is a choreographer and director who has choreographed for over hundreds of Hindi songs. Terrence Lewis, a dancer and choreographer, specializing in contemporary style. Remo D'Souza, a choreographer and dancer has contributed to Bollywood, Bengali and south Indian Film Industries. They all are judges for various dance reality shows, in search of talents.

Bollywood dance costumes

Bollywood dance costumes often have intricate and elaborate gold or silver work, and are enhanced with Gold or Silver jewelry. Jewelry includes finger rings, bangles, earrings, tikka (on hair partition), bindi (dot on forehead) and anklets. Dance costumes include a waist-cinching gold jewelry, known as kamarbandh (in Hindi). Henna to hands and feet is a popular part of dance costumes.

Bollywood dance is constantly experimenting with new styles, concepts while maintaining the classical cultural aspect.