For the last three summers, a Maryland institute has been offering its students a course in Bollywood dance with Kolkata-based choreographer, Vishal Kanoi at the helm. But what’s surprising, and perhaps the defining factor of its success, is that most of the students who are training in it at the CityDance Center are not of Indian origin. Says Kanoi, “It’s very encouraging that most of the students are native Americans with strong participation from the subcontinet as well.”
As part of the Summer Intensive Programme, the choreographer has trained his students in styles like Ganesh vandana, garba and sword dance. His students have danced to popular Bollywood numbers like Jai Ho…, All Izz Well…, Anjaana Anjaani… and even the new RA.One number, Chammak Challo. Kanoi even conducts master classes in Bollywood Dancing in New York, Washington DC, Maryland, and Chicago. He explains, “They are held by various schools and institutions to introduce a new concept, style or improvisation technique by experts from different parts of the world to their students. Bollywood is a fast emerging genre in USA because of its larger-than-life musical nature and colourful and vibrant themes that incorporate different dance styles with the folk styles of India and narrate stories dramatically.”
This year, one of the master classes was even attended by Hollywood actor, Brooke Shields. Adds Kanoi, “She came for the Jazz Intensive class by Frank Hatchett in New York. Hatchett, who is famously known as the Doctor of Jazz, had singled out my efforts in front of the whole class.” Another endeavour that, Kanoi undertook this year was the fundraising Bollywood Master Class for NEST, a non-profit micro finance organisation. Says Vishal, “Members of the NEST, students, family, and friends of CityDance and delegates from the Embassy of India in Washington DC were invited for the workshop. The evening had everyone dancing to Bollywood numbers like Gal Mithi Mithi Bol… and Full Volume…, which helped them connect, network and spread the message about their organisation.” In the last three years, Vishal has undertaken over six Bollywood performances in various US cities. Four performances have been conducted in CityDance’s Backyard Theatre whereas the others have been in-studio performances.