7.00 pm – Bollywood Funk, taught by Ayesha Khanna @ Ripley Grier Studios
What is Bollywood Funk? Is it the same as Bhangra? Will I be able to keep up? Or will I stick out like a sore thumb? These were the questions in my mind as I entered Ripley Grier Studios on Wednesday for Ayesha Khanna’s Bollywood Funk class. The regular students, who affectionately call themselves B-Funkers, immediately helped to put me at ease by being wonderfully friendly and inviting. All the amicable chatter outside the studio before class begins, makes you feel like you are just catching up with your friends and it just so happens that you will be learning semi-complicated South Asian pop moves as well. Thank goodness for the few Bollywood songs I picked up in Zumba trainings and the various Bollywood movies I watched while living in East Africa, where there is a sizable Indian community, I wasn’t completely lost.
But Ayesha’s tight moves and vibrant gestures definitely take some effort to keep up with. Right out the gate, she is a ball of energy. It’s obvious that she’s a pro and has been at it for some time. It’s also obvious that she loves it and values each of the members, who she calls by first name. Dance Instructor, Zenobia Dotiwala, is right there in the front of the room helping to demonstrate the choreography for us.
Taking inspiration from the amalgamation of ‘East’ and ‘West’ in contemporary Indian culture and cinema, Bollywood Funk is a culturally and technically diverse Bollywood-inspired dance style born in India, but raised in North America. To the question of whether Bollywood is the same as Bhangra… From what I could gather, Bhangra is a type music and Bollywood Funk is a style of dance. Bollywood Funk can be danced to Bhangra music. Somebody please correct me if I’m wrong. Either way, you do work up a sweat and look pretty cute doing it. What’s better than that, really?