Gurus of Dance
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.
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:
Parodh aavi, khushiyo sange laavi…
colorful dawn has come, what happiness
ni kirano vikharaay, umang evi
of hope everywhere, excitement is flowing,
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