The joy of Bol­ly­wood Dance

The Bol­ly­wood Sis­ters’ classes are all about fun, laugh­ter and get­ting out of your head

Northern Rivers Style - - CONTENTS - KATE O’NEILL

It’s im­pos­si­ble not to smile when you watch a per­for­mance by The Bol­ly­wood Sis­ters. Their colour­ful out­fits, huge smiles and en­er­getic, of­ten cheeky moves, ra­di­ate joy, fun and hap­pi­ness.

The first time Lotje Boer saw them dance, she knew she wanted to be a part of it.

“I was so moved,” she says.

“They just looked so happy, so colour­ful, so alive.”

Her op­por­tu­nity came a few years later, when the Bol­ly­wood Sis­ters started classes in her neigh­bour­hood of South Golden Beach. She joined up straight away and has been danc­ing now for the past two years.

“I used to dance a lot when I was younger - go out danc­ing and that sort of thing - but be­ing a mum you don’t get to go out that much, and I re­ally missed danc­ing in my life. This has been a re­ally good way to get that back.”

She says the classes al­low her to have a break from her busy work and fam­ily life, get a good work­out, and have some fun.

“I re­ally wanted to do some­thing for me, that wasn’t fam­ily time or work­ing - some­thing where I could re­ally for­get about ev­ery­thing and have some time out.

“It’s re­ally phys­i­cal. I don’t like jog­ging - and gyms just scare me - but I like to keep fit and ac­tive and we def­i­nitely get a sweat up, it’s very en­er­getic.”

Lotje says the classes at­tract peo­ple (mostly women but some­times men too) of all ages, abil­i­ties, con­fi­dence lev­els and body shapes, and there are no ex­pec­ta­tions or judge­ment.

“It’s a beau­ti­ful, ac­cept­ing group and I love the di­ver­sity of peo­ple,” she says.

And al­though the steps can be quite chal­leng­ing, she says there’s no pres­sure or judg­ment: “It’s not so much about get­ting the steps right, it’s about be­ing present.”

Lotje’s teacher and Bol­ly­wood Sis­ters co-founder Ze­rina Mil­lard ex­plains that Bol­ly­wood dance is a fu­sion of In­dian clas­si­cal dance and lots of mod­ern dance styles in­clud­ing in­clud­ing Latin, hip hop and African, which she likes to de­scribe as “joyful mod­ern In­dian dance”.

It’s highly ex­pres­sive - and en­er­getic - but Ze­rina gives high and low im­pact op­tions, and every­one is en­cour­aged to work at their own level.

“We def­i­nitely get a sweat up, but in a fun and ac­ces­si­ble way.” A teacher for the past 15 years, Ze­rina runs reg­u­lar classes in Ballina and South Golden Beach, as well as per­form­ing at events and func­tions across the North­ern Rivers with the Bol­ly­wood Sis­ters troupe.

She says al­though she took some Clas­sic In­dian Dance classes as a child, it wasn’t un­til a lit­tle later in life that she dis­cov­ered her pas­sion for In­dian dance and the Bol­ly­wood style.

“Mum is from South In­dia, but grow­ing up in mid­dle class Can­berra that part of our cul­ture was very much marginalised. Mum had en­rolled us in Clas­si­cal In­dian Dance as kids but we didn’t like it be­cause it was strange to us.”

In her 20s, af­ter a trip to Brazil, she joined an African dance troupe in By­ron Bay and later, a salsa troupe, but soon re­alised some­thing was miss­ing.

“Hav­ing dark skin I have al­ways been able to pass as many na­tion­al­i­ties, but even­tu­ally I re­alised I was rep­re­sent­ing all of these dif­fer­ent cul­tures and com­pletely ig­nor­ing my own.”

“I started clas­si­cal In­dian classes in By­ron Bay with an Aus­tralian teacher named Prhlad and im­me­di­ately felt con­nected to a hid­den as­pect of my­self. I de­cided to travel to In­dia to study more deeply. In 2003 my sis­ter, Shamila, and I started teach­ing Bol­ly­wood dance classes in By­ron in my dad’s ware­house and it has just grown from there.”

She says her fo­cus in her classes al­ways about find­ing hap­pi­ness through dance. They’re also a re­minder not to take your­self too se­ri­ously.

“My aim is for peo­ple to laugh, move and con­nect with them­selves and other peo­ple, “she says

“Bol­ly­wood dance is joyful and of­ten hi­lar­i­ous. It’s a chance to get out of heads and into our bodies and just have fun and be silly.”

PHOTO: KATE O'NEILL

DANC­ING QUEENS: The Bol­ly­wood Sis­ters, in­clud­ing co-founder Shamila, fifth from left and Ze­rina, third from right

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