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Delhi Dance Academy Turns Tourists into Bollywood Stars

Dance Workshop for Tourists at Delhi Dance Academy

“Here, put these on first,” directed the brown skinned man with dazzling corkscrew curls and a smile to match. “But red’s not my color,” Dale joked as we received our outfits. We each went into the changing room and put on the following:

For Dale: a red Khurta and white Dhoti

For Kellie: a Kermit-the-frog green Saree

For Delaney and Riley: the most beautiful Ghagra Cholis I’d ever seen.

Delaney and Riley wearing Ghagra Cholis
Delaney and Riley wearing Ghagra Cholis

Namaste India Dance Workshop for Tourists

I was immediately envious and wanted to trade, but I figured the sarees were reserved for the middle aged women and the cute young girls got to wear the cute outfits. Oh well.

Despite what it may seem, we weren’t on a shopping trip for traditional Indian clothes. We had signed up for Bollywood dance lessons for tourists at Delhi Dance Academy.

Next Nazir led us into the studio that would be our training ground for the next two hours. But we didn’t get started right away. Of course not. We were in India, and we needed a proper initiation ceremony first.

Banghra style dance lessons

That’s when Aditya entered the studio.  One at a time, he sprinkled our heads with saffron colored flower petals, placed marigold flower malas around our necks, and dotted our foreheads with red teekas.

“Even if this is a disaster,” I thought, “at least we look the part.” After the brief ceremony, Aditya wasted no time in teaching us the choreography for our first number: a Bhangra style dance. He was an enthusiastic teacher with an infectious smile. I liked him immediately.

First he demonstrated and then we followed. “Make your moves big!” he instructed. “Higher! Higher!” he exclaimed as we did our best to keep up. After about 30 minutes of rehearsal, it was time for our performance. We laughed as we did our best to perform this Bhangra dance for the video camera. I was pleasantly surprised at our performance. However, there was no time to celebrate because it was time to learn the next dance number.

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Bollywood style dance lessons

Just as we were recovering from the Bhangra dance, Aditya disappeared and was replaced by Sujeet. Having mastered our first dance, Sujeet obviously thought we were pros at this point. His job: to teach us to master a Bollywood style dance in about an hour.

Sujeet clearly had higher expectations for our abilities than we did, because there are only two words to describe Bollywood style dance: fast and furious. However, the three words that described our condition at this point: sleep-deprived, jet-lagged, and sick (Riley). (In our defense, we had arrived at our hotel at 1:15 AM after more than 24 hours of travel. We slept for a few hours and then began a long day of sightseeing around Delhi. Now it was 7:00 PM and we were running on fumes.)

For the next hour we did our very best to keep up. And just when we thought we had learned the last move, Sujeet added on more. We laughed our way through each series of steps, but we secretly all wanted to do well. No one wanted to be the one who messed up the final performance.

See we are not a family of dancers. Not that we don’t want to be; we’re simply not naturally gifted in this way. And I was banking on Dale being the worst dancer of all. He frequently forgets what he had for lunch, so I thought there would be no way he would remember all these series of dance moves. Therefore, I felt confident in my place in the family dance ability hierarchy. I would place third. I wasn’t sure if Delaney or Riley would be the best, but I knew I wouldn’t be the worst.

Or so I thought.

Dale was the dark horse of the group. Before too long I found myself watching him when I couldn’t remember the next step. We had landed in some sort of bizarro world where things weren’t as they should be. All I can figure to explain this odd turn-of-events is that his innate musical ability kicked in. He remembered steps and combinations that I couldn’t. Dale was a Bollywood dancing machine.

Bangra and Bollywood performances

Once Sujeet thought we were the best we were going to be, he called in Nazir to record our recital for an audience of two.

Now it was time to begin learning our third dance. Unfortunately, we no longer had the physical or mental bandwidth to attempt to learn another dance. So we changed clothes and bid farewell to our new Indian friends and dance instructors. It was a memorable ending to our first day in India!

Things to know about the Namaste Dance Workshop at Delhi Dance Academy

Before you book your dance class, here are a few things to know:

  • Classes last two hours each and they teach three different styles of Indian dance: Bollywood, Bhangra, and Dandiya,
  • A video of your performances is included.
  • Per person cost: 2500 INR (~$35 USD) without costumes, and 3000 INR (~$43 USD) with costumes. The costumes are well worth the extra rupees!
  • To book, pease email info@delhidanceacademy.in or nazir@delhidanceacademy.in
  • To learn more, please visit Delhi Dance Academy.

Bollywood musical at Kingdom of Dreams

To complete your visit to India, be sure to watch a real Bollywood musical at the Kingdom of Dreams. Kingdom of Dreams is Delhi’s version of New York City’s Broadway. All of the songs and dialogue are in Hindi, but you can rent English translation headsets for around $3.50.

Kingdom of Dreams theater
Kingdom of Dreams theater

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The young and the young-at-heart usually prefer to “do” things rather than “see” things when they travel. We are no exception. Our family dance lessons at Delhi Dance Academy ended up being one of the highlights of our trip to India. If you go to Delhi, it will certainly be a highlight for you too.

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