Combine the urban flow of a pulsating hip-hop track, the sharp rhythm of classical Indian folk styles and the intricate allure of middle-eastern belly dancing –the results are an infectious fusion known as Bollywood dance.
Members of the Indian Student Association at California State University, Long Beach branched out this semester by forming their own group: Beach Bollywood, a club catered to Bollywood dance enthusiasts.
“There’s nothing like it on campus,” Arzoo Shaikh, president of Beach Bollywood and a senior health science major at CSULB, said. “We have a salsa club, we have a hip-hop club, but this is a little different.”
Although the team still performed at events held by ISA, its members decided to go it alone in order to gain their own voice and focus mainly on dance.
Beach Bollywood differentiates itself from the myriad of cultural clubs that line the CSULB campus in that it is a melting pot of different cultures that bring a little something to the table for everyone, according to Shaikh.
“Bollywood dancing has a different vibe to it,” Bansari Patel, a sophomore nursing student at CSULB, said. “The music has a lot of energy and there is a lot of excitement when putting together a show and performing in front of an audience.”
In Bollywood movies, it is not unusual for a scene to break off mid-sentence into a lavish ballroom with a larger-than-life flash mob dressed in extravagant costumes, according to Patel.
The dance is a true east-meets-west fusion style that combines elements of jazz, hip-hop, pop, Arabic and Latin music with some of India’s traditional classic and folk dances to create a rich and vivacious signature dance.
The all-encompassing brand of the club does not limit itself to Indian students or Bollywood movie fans.
“We have a good mix of people,” Shaikh said. “The majority are international students from India, but we also have African-American and Hispanic students.”
With mainstream artists such as Selena Gomez and Kanye West incorporating Indian styles into their tracks, it is fitting that Beach Bollywood has used more American songs with Indian beats lately in its choreography. According to Shaikh, they recently did a dance to “Come and Get it” by Selena Gomez.
Though Bollywood’s popularity continues to grow in the U.S., Canada and Europe since the Oscar winning movie “Slumdog Millionaire,” Shaikh said that few students at CSULB fully understand what the film genre is all about.
“When you think Bollywood, [students] don’t really know what the heck it is,” Shaikh said.
Shaikh said that Beach Bollywood hopes to share its culture and style with more students by being more publicized and making Bollywood a more accessible term in the future.
The club has performed for cultural events at CSULB as well as UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton, according to club member and CSULB sophomore Naomie Ranatunge, who studies cellular molecular biology and physiology. However, they plan on gaining more members and competing in dance competitions with other schools.
“[Bollywood dance] is the new culture of India,” Ranatunge said.