The Bolly'robics class is based on different Indian dance styles stitched together in sequences to get your heart rate up.
I HAD SHOWN up to the Bolly’robics class hoping I’d master the dance immediately and look as good as the dancers in Bollywood films. But it didn’t turn out exactly that way.
The teacher, Corinne, kept flicking her fingers and wrists elegantly, transforming her hands into beautiful shapes as she bounced up and down to the music. She had said before class that we would be doing more aerobics than Bollywood dancing, but her sequences didn’t look like a step routine.
Bolly’robics is offered through the Seattle-based Indian dance school, Dancing with Mollie. Owner Mollie Singh teaches traditional and modern Indian dance, ranging from Bollywood to folk, but started Bolly’robics after students asked for more vigorous classes.
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The Bolly’robics class, offered once a week, is based on different Indian dance styles stitched together in sequences to get your heart rate up. Corinne is part of Mollie’s dance group, as were other people in class that day. That left me trying to keep up.
The class generally involves a lot of bopping around, plus footwork and coordinating arms, so even though Indian dance is traditionally done barefoot, sneakers or dance shoes are a good idea for Bolly’robics.
The class taps traditional Indian dance, energetic Bollywood-style choreography and Bangra, a form of folk dance that features a lot of shoulder shrugging. Corinne advised me to shrug my shoulders a bunch if I couldn’t keep up. My not-so-dextrous shoulders didn’t like this advice.
The class consisted of sequences choreographed to different songs. For each song, we’d learn a sequence, and once we had it, we would turn to face each side of the dance floor and repeat the dance all the way around.
The sequences were not broken down a great deal, but other regular students had it down. Sometimes I found myself spinning the wrong way. Still, with repetition, my feet mostly moved in the right direction.
If you are new, it may feel like Indian dance by fire. But even without dance training, most people should be able to catch on. Once you do, have fun. It was mesmerizing to watch the experts swivel their hips and flick their fingers with each move.
Bolly’robics really was aerobic, with plenty of quick dance tempos to keep your heart rate up. We occasionally had a few kicks that built some hip and leg strength, but overall, it was about moving for an hour straight.
If you want to learn Indian dance, I’d go for a straight dance class to learn more about the history and style of dance. I was fascinated by the use of hands in Indian dance, but we didn’t learn about them in class.
But if you want to try to pick up some Bollywood moves for the clubs — apparently a popular pastime among some students — this is the place to learn some cool sequences and get a little sweat in, too.