History of World Dance 3813-001
April 7, 2010
An Exploration to the History of Bollywood Dance
In 2008, the movie “Slum dog Millionaire” inspired a new dance craze, quickly spreading across the globe. Due to the movies, popular hit song, “Jai Ho” and the famous choreographed dance shown in a memorable performance during the closing credits of the film, known as Bollywood dance, has exploded into dance studios, workout facilities, and films worldwide. For decades, the infusion of song and dance has been a vital element of the Indian and Hindu film industry. Bollywood dance is not an easy topic to discuss because it does not have exact history, definition, or style associated with it. However, it still is a recognizable dance form, which is growing rapidly across the globe. Dance is vital aspect of the Hindu and Indian culture and has been for centuries. "Bollywood absorbs all of western dancing and combines it with popular Indian folk dances. In India, dance is done for every occasion -- when a child is born, when a name is given to the child, when the lady is pregnant, when somebody gets married -- children learn dance from when they are very young (Rauschert)”. Nevertheless, Bollywood dance takes inspiration from Indian folk and classical dances such as; Bharata natyam, Kathak and Bhangra blended with western contemporary and hip-hop.
The definition of “Bollywood” described by Gopal and Moorti, “Frequently remarked upon by insiders and always remarkable to outsiders, song-dance occupies the constitutive limit of Bollywood cinema. It determines – perhaps unfairly but invariably – the form itself even as it frequently escapes the filmic context to inhabit other milieus (Gopal, 1)”. Bollywood dance historical roots refer to Hindi culture short film and movie industry and cultural art originating from Bombay, also referred to as Mumbai. Mumbai is the heart and soul of Bollywood’s Hindi and Indian film industry. Bollywood song and dance sequences are the basis of every famous Indian film and have been for decades. Song and music generally explain the specific story or place in the movie, and expresses the moment through an impromptu song and dance number. “Sometimes, a song is worked into the plot, so that a character has a reason to sing; other times, a song is an externalization of a character's thoughts, or presages an event that has not occurred yet in the plot of the movie. In this case, the moment is almost is always two characters' that are falling in love. Songs are a mode of indirect expression whereby characters can articulate thoughts and desires which may be inappropriate to state directly (Ganti, 81)”. Film censor boards maintained very strict guidelines imposed on Hindi and Indian films. Symbolic and seductive dance sequences were used to replace sex scenes to satisfy the censor board. Before 1960, Indian films represented traditional Indian folk and classical dance. Bharat Natyam was mostly shown in south Indian films, as opposed to Hindi films that had a strong influence of Kathak, also known as the “Mujara” that were connected with the tawaifs. Some of these influences are still practiced today, but have blended with many more dance styles and do not represent its original dance form. The pioneer to Bollywood dance can be classified as one of the most historical and oldest dance practices of India, is Bharata Natyam, originally known as Sadir. This dance was performed in the Hindu temples in southern India. Evidence of this dance has an Indian history stemming back two thousand years in the book of Natya Shastra. During these times, the ancient sacred literature of Hinduism called the Vedas, which included four books, with the fifth being Natya Shastra, which describes and illustrates dance steps, moves and gestures. The Vedas is the most sacred literature of India and the earliest literary record of Hinduism. They contain spiritual knowledge to include all aspects of...
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