By Shilpa Darivemula
BHANGRA: This form of dance hails from the northern state of Punjab, the rich farmland and the home of the lushest greenery in India. The form of Bhangra that we see today comes from a mix of many different dance styles from the Punjab region. These dances were performed by mainly male Punjabi farmers to celebrate the fruitful harvests of the season. Some of the hand gestures and footwork used in Bhangra reflect techniques used in farming, such as reaping harvests or plowing the land. Because of the roughness of the dance and lifting of the legs, many women in Punjab do not perform Bhangra; instead, they have a milder dance form called the Giddha which centers on stories from a woman’s life.What makes Bhangra especially unique is the percussion used in its music. Bhangra is based on the sounds of a two-sided drum called the dhol, another single stringed instrument called the tumbi, and the brass chimes called the chimta. Now, thanks to the success of certain Bhangra artists and the Indian diaspora, Bhangra has evolved into what we see it as today—with its music remixed, new hybrid dance moves, with women and men dancing together, and with competition teams all over the world. Of course, despite these changes, the heart of Bhangra is still the same: it is the dance of celebrating life!
CLASSICAL FUSION: India is home to many different classical dances, of which the government recognizes seven as “national classical dances.” The seven classical dance styles are Kathak, Bharata Natyam, Kuchipudi, Mohiniyattam, Kathakali, Manipuri and Odissi. Each of the seven styles comes from a particular state in India, has its own music style and costume, and its own completely unique repertoire.Classical Fusion is a dynamic dialogue between the east and the west. When many Indians immigrated to various parts of Europe and the United States, the classical styles some brought with them changed and formed through many years to what is known today as classical fusion dancing. Classical fusion combines the styles of all seven different dance forms and experiments with Western modern dances, music and beats. Classical fusion is, therefore, the ultimate expression of movement and translation between dance languages. No two dances are ever the same. Many universities have a classical fusion team filled with second-generation Indians; these students are the ones pushing classical fusion to new levels and heights.
BOLLYWOOD: ‘Bollywood’ is the name of the Hindi-language film industry that is well known for its movie-musicals and sharp dance numbers. The dances to the songs in the movies make up what is now called “Bollywood Dance.” Bollywood Dance is modeled on a mix of classical dances, hip hop, modern dance and Bhangra—basically, it is a fusion of the fusions. Although many Bollywood dancers in real life don’t get the comfort of having background dancer-clones, they do get to experiment with new music and new moves all of the time. In fact, many exercise programs today include Bollywood dance workouts, providing a new and fun venue to burn calories. Bollywood dancing has become its own powerful genre. What make it so great is its flexibility, versatility and its funk, allowing it to mix with all different types of dances and create something new.