Evolution of Dancing in Bollywood, Learn How to Bollywood Dance for Dummies

Want to learn Bollywood dance moves? Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you.

Even those who don’t see lot of Bollywood movies know that song and dance are an important part of Indian movies. Its sort of a musical, and that’s where the dancing part comes in.

One of the reasons for Bollywood’s popularity is its dance, which appeals to youngsters all over the world. Bollywood filmmakers like Yash Chopra, Aditya Chopra, Karan Johar make films that have great songs & dances, and their movies tend to be very popular with the masses.

What is Bollywood Dance

Bollywood dance is the commercial name for the dance that you see in Bollywood movies. Similar to the movies (which are known as masala movies because it has a bit of every thing in it), Bollywood dancing can have a bit of classical Indian dance, bit of folk dancing such as Bhangra and at times also have steps from Latin and Arabic dance.

Its a lively blend of Indian folk and classical styles and Western influences such as ballet, jazz and hip-hop. Today’s choreographers (and filmmakers) are open to experimenting and are ready to blend other styles as well into Bollywood dancing.

If you’re a foreigner, learning Bollywood dance not just provides a great workout, it also teaches you a lot about Indian culture.

Goosebump song from Kung Fu Yoga. Jackie Chan doing Bollywood dance and thoroughly enjoying it.

The Evolution of Dancing in Bollywood

In the old days, dancing in Bollywood films was based on Indian Classical Dance (including Kathak and Bharata Natyam) or Folk Dances from various parts of India.

Devika Rani mesmerized with her expressions in the films made in the 30s. Actresses like Vyjayanthimala Bali ruled the late-60s and 70s with classical folk dance.

Ude Jab Jab Zulfen Teri from Naya Daur & Dilip Kumar, Vyjayanthimala

The late 50’s & 60’s also saw the emergence of group dances where choreographers started using larger groups of dancers, with influences from folk dances.

Aaja Aaja Mein Hoon Pyar Tera from Teesri Manzil (Asha Parekh, Shammi Kapoor)

Bollywood Dance began to change in the 70s with the Cabaret style of dancing becoming more mainstream (Helen being the most popular dancer of this style).

Yeh Mera Dil from Don (Helen and Amitabh Bachchan)

Soon Disco, a worldwide phenomenon in the early eighties, reached Bollywood. Mithun Chakraborty became a dancing sensation after his movie Disco Dancer’s success.

I Am A Disco Dancer from the movie ‘Disco Dancer’

The late eighties and the early nineties saw the emergence of Bollywood Free Style dancing, made famous by dancers like Govinda who had their own signature style of dance.

Makhna from Bade Miyan Chote Miyan (Govinda, Madhuri & Big B)

Bollywood choreographers now take inspiration from several genres, including Hip-Hop and other styles influenced by Western culture. And if the situation demands classical, they are game for it too. Checkout these songs with different dance styles.

Kar Gayi Chull from Kapoor & Sons

Bhool Bhulaiya – Aami Je Tomar

Aaja Nachle ‘Title Song’

Bollywood Dancing for Dummies

Here a simplified guide to Bollywood dancing. If you’re keen to learn this dancing style, these steps will help you get better at this form of dancing.

  1. Watch more of Bollywood films to get a feel of the style; YouTube is the best place to start. You may start with the Bollywood movies “Bollywood/Hollywood” and “Bride and Prejudice”. These movies were filmed in the English language and feature classic Bollywood-style song and dance routines. You can also find many more original Bollywood films with English subtitles.
  2. Go through online Bollywood dance tutorials/classes. Feel free to experiment. Remember, as long as you keep to the beat of the music, you really can’t go wrong with your Bollywood dance.
  3. Once you’re sure you want to learn it better, enroll for a Bollywood dance class. There are several dance studios offer dance classes based on the Bollywood style. You may even enroll for fitness dance classes that are inspired by Bollywood choreography, such as Bollywood for fitness or Bellydance/Bollywood fusion classes.
  4. Want to take your learning one step further, why not learn classical Indian form such as Odissi or Kathak? Anything classical is seen as a difficult thing to learn and if you can do it, your Indian friends will surely be proud of your skills. You can then adapt these skills to create your own Bollywood dance steps.

Learn to Have Fun

If you have an opportunity to learn other dancing styles, such as hip hop, jazz ballet, make full use of it. After all, Bollywood dance is a blend of various styles and knowing the various types of dance moves will help you to perform on several Bollywood numbers.

Pay attention to your facial expressions and your body language. Just knowing the steps is not enough if you want to be really good at Bollywood dancing. Because Bollywood uses very theatrical techniques, your expressions & demeanour will be as important as dancing the right moves!

Choosing a Dance Studio

Bollywood continues to be the best-selling dance class format at several dance studios. When choosing a dance studio, keep the following things in mind.

  1. Make sure they employ good choreographers, who’ll teach you how to dance on the latest Bollywood blockbuster songs.
  2. Make sure the Bollywood dance is taught in various formats such as Bollywood freestyle, Bollywood plus Hip Hop and Bollywood plus Classical. Make sure you get a mix of various Indian and western dance forms!
  3. Make sure they provide an opportunity to perform at various events and/or have their own shows where you can demonstrate your Bollywood dance moves.