World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival


Gurus of Dance

Aditya Patel
First appearance in SF EDF:

Gurus of Dance is the Bay Area’s first Broadway-style Bollywood musical school which offers Indian folk and Bollywood dance training, along with a unique acting program, to over 1,000 students every year. It was founded in 2009 by Aditya Patel, who is also the director of the professional Bollywood musical company Solskrit and the Bollywood event company SplashoMania. The school has produced twelve Bollywood student musicals and its professional company has produced the Bay Area’s first Broadway-style Bollywood musicals such as Spotlight, Genie, and Roarrr.


TITLE: Shubh Arambh; Dholna
Aditya Patel
Shruti Mitesh Bhawsar
Ajeenkya Bhatalkar, Neha Dadbhawala, Sanika Divekar, Pankaj Dubey, Gohar Jaffer, Payal Joshi, Sonia Kalwit, Shruti Mitesh, Candice Newnes, Tripthi Pai, Priyanka Patel, Uday Patel, Veena Ramachandran, Neeru Sehgal, Swarada Sontakke, Vishal Vedula
Tanya Chadha, Shreya Guha, Pawan Jariwala, Ria Kalluri, Yash Khadilkar, Aviral Kukreja, Reva Kulkarni, Khushi Loomba, Neha Mannem, Aayushi Mehta, Shashwat Mehta, Pooja Parikh, Ashna Pattanayak, Anita Puthenparambil, Sarisha Sabhlok, Anjali Sadarangani, Neha Sanghrajka, Niyati Sanghrajka

In this opening act of an original Bollywood musical called Roarrr, thirty-four young, joyful, talented dancers celebrate the birth of the lion king. It’s easy to see why India’s raas-garba Bollywood fusion is immensely popular in India and the US!

The form merges two beloved devotional dances—raas and garba—from the west coast state of Gujarati. And then it adds more than a little bit of Bollywood. Both raas and garba are usually danced to honor the protective Hindu goddess Durga during the Navratri, or Nine Night Festival. Durga is a fierce and beautiful warrior. She rides into battle on a lion, carrying weapons in each of her eight-to-ten hands, attracting demons and annihilating them.

The first piece, Shubh Arambh, or A New Beginning, shows us the raas form, traditionally a men’s-only dance dramatizing Durga’s fight with the mighty demon-king Mahishasura. Wooden dandiya sticks (or brilliant light sabers in this Bollywood-style production) represent the swords of Durga. They are wielded skillfully as dancers execute fast whirls while gesturing and stepping to complex rhythms. The lyrics are contemporary, honoring new beginnings:

Rangeen Parodh aavi, khushiyo sange laavi…
harkhaaye haiyu haay haay

That colorful dawn has come, what happiness
it brought, the heart is filled with joy!

Aasha ni kirano vikharaay, umang evi
chhalkaay, mann hal ve thi gungunaaye...
haaye haaye haaye...

Rays of hope everywhere, excitement is flowing,
heart is humming lightly...

The second piece, Dholna, or Celebration, shows the garba form, traditionally danced by women, carrying earthen lamps to a statue of the goddess. The dancers’ slow, complex circle patterns represent the cyclic nature of birth, life, death, and reincarnation. To lively Bollywood music, dancers sing out their joy that their beloved king has finally arrived.

The women wear colorful dresses, heavy jewelry, brightly embroidered ghagra choli blouses and long dupatta scarves exhibiting amazing patchwork. The men wear scarves and special kedias with embroidered patchwork.

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