Singh leads a Bollywood dance class at Bollywood Shake
in Austin, Texas, Jan. 13, 2014.
Texas ó Admit it. As the credits rolled at the end of "Slumdog
Millionaire," you wanted to climb out of your red velvet
theater seat and jam away alongside the cast of the movie.
the disapproving gaze of your fellow moviegoers, though, your
rump stayed put while the actors and actresses pumped and
swayed, hip rolled and swirled in what was, for many of us, an
introduction to Bollywood dance.
that just me? No matter. Bollywood has landed in mainstream
America in the form of fitness classes that will have you
rocking out to music from the Mumbai-based Hindi-language film
Washington, D.C., exercisers sweat it out in a fitness class
called Doonya, a sort of Bollywood twist on Zumba. In
Manhattan, gym-goers crowd studios to catch the latest Masala
Bhangra (which roughly translates to spicy folk dance)
classes. And in the United Kingdom, they flock to "Just
Jhoom!" to get their Bollywood fitness on.
Austin, exercisers can channel their favorite Bollywood stars
during classes at places such as Bollywood Shake and Ballet
Austinís Butler Community School.
dropped by Bollywood Shake, where instructor Sumi Singh, 37,
credits the cityís growing Indian population, the increased
popularity of Bollywood movies and the recent naming of Nina
Davuluri as Miss America for the surging interest in Bollywood
that time of day ó 9:30 a.m.," Singh hollers and cranks
up the music as 15 students line up in front of a mirrored
wall. "Welcome to Bollywood Shake! Todayís workout is
going to be really, really hard!" Itís all women except
for one. Some are wearing hip sashes adorned with coin-sized
metal discs that add a jangly note to every hip thrust. Iím
there, too, in the far corner, trying to loosen hips that feel
more like the rusted metal wheels of an old tractor thatís
been abandoned in a farm field for a couple of decades.
back, shake it," Singh encourages as the women follow her
lead. Itís like a Bollywood version of a country western
line dance. The group slides collectively across the room,
then glides back, with kicks, twirls and dramatic hand motions
tossed in. The music is irresistibly vibrant and lively.
canít move my hips like that," I whisper to the woman
next to me.
can. It just takes time," she tells me.
after 45 minutes with Singh, I sort of believe her. Or at
least I donít care how I look trying anymore.
transforms the studio into a Mumbai nightclub, with the
students surging from one side of the dance floor to the other
and cheering one another on.
going to get your hair messed up. Whip it!" Singh shouts,
then calls on the students, one at a time, to demonstrate
their best head rolls. "OK my superstars! Girls from
India, this is your song!" Before the class is over, weíve
lined up against one wall for a series of calf raises. Weíve
high-fived, weíve formed a circle in the center of the room
and kicked our legs like Kilgore Rangerettes.
so energetic," says Sonia Nimavat, 39. "Iím from
India, and since I was a child Iíve listened to this music.
Itís like home." Most, but not all, of the students are
of Indian descent. Laura Holle, 49, started attending at the
invitation of an Indian friend.
like the dance aspect of it, and Iím kind of an
international lover," she says. The moves take a while to
catch on, she says, especially if youíre not used to moving
your hips in that swirly way. Holle is ó sheís taken
Arabic dance class before.
Patel, 46, says a Bollywood fitness class trumps watching a
Bollywood movie. "Itís a good workout. You cannot think
of anything while doing it ó just shaking and dancing and
having fun," she says.
Pradhan, 40, agrees. "We donít think itís like
exercise ó itís fun and whole body," she says.
"I follow all the Bollywood movies, thatís why I like
this music." The choreography changes for every class, so
students donít get bored. Thatís good news, because,
according to Bharathy Thangavelu, 37, I need to stick with it
for at least eight weeks to get some interesting results.
you do it for two months you will be sexy," Thangavelu
says. "Itís not complicated."
Bollywood song picks from Bollywood Shake: 1. "Tooh"
from the movie "Gori Tere Pyaar Mein" 2. "Tattad
Tattad" from "Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela"
3. "Ishqyaun Dhishqyaun" from "Goliyon Ki
Raasleela Ram-Leela" 4. "Raghupati Raghav" from
"Krrish 3" 5. "Party All Night" from
Bollywood Shake class for yourself online at mystatesman.com.