A free Bollywood workshop will be held on Saturday afternoon as part of the Confluence Festival of India in Australia, the biggest festival of Indian arts and culture ever staged here.
Orchestrating the moves outside the Opera House will be Indian dancer and choreographer Gilles Chuyen, who has run Bollywood workshops in many countries including Britain, the US, Egypt and Israel will hold a workshop at Sydney Opera House forecourt for 1000 people dancing to the distinctive rhythms of Indian cinema.
“It’s just amazing how people respond to it,” says Chuyen. “Many just start laughing after the first move. It’s an entry into a different world and people love to go into that colourful space.”
Organisers are expecting up to 1500 people to participate in the workshop.
“Most of the time we start with slower, easier routines to see how the group picks it up,” says the French-born Chuyen, who has been choreographing Bollywood dances for more than a decade.
“If the group is getting into it then we go onto faster songs. I usually feel a real difference before the workshop and after. Before the workshop it’s all strangers coming, it’s all egos and all individuals, but by the end of the workshop I feel like we have become a community and have had an amazing time.”
Bollywood movies typically feature a series of elaborate dance routines. Movie songs are often released in India prior to a film and some become hits long before opening night. To choreograph a Bollywood dance routine Chuyen normally picks a few words from the movie song and “transforms” them into moves and gestures.
“Bollywood dance actually draws from the Indian classical dance tradition which is about the body telling a story,” he says. “Emotions are larger than life and it’s very romantic. There’s a sense of magic in Bollywood – it’s like a splash of colour.”
Chuyen thinks his workshops have been especially popular in western countries because they allow people to “break a lot of barriers”.
“Maybe it’s because in the West life has become very structured and predictable but Bollywood is the complete opposite,” he says. “It’s [a] different world where emotions are larger than life.
“Bollywood is all about believing in dreams and people want to go into that. Often, it’s incredible how the energy in the group changes after just one or two hours dancing Bollywood … sense of joy and togetherness is what the workshop is all about.”
A number of recent Bollywood blockbusters have been filmed in Australia and several have included scenes of the Sydney Opera House.
Free Bollywood workshops will also be held in Brisbane and Canberra in association with the Confluence Festival which was announced by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he made an historic visit to Australia in November 2014. It will showcase Indian dance, theatre and music in seven cities in September and October.
The Bollywood Workshop is at Sydney Opera House forecourt, 4-6pm, on Saturday, September 10. – CINEWS