The Telegram (St. John's)
Bollywood Jig dance troupe combines cultures
Started by Sanchita Chakraborty in 2004, Bollywood Jig combines several schools of dance
Introducing herself, dancer Sanchita Chakraborty runs through all the signs of welcome from around the world she can think of.
She includes the Indian “namaste,” the French “bonjour” and Arabic “as-salamu alaykum,” before arriving at her self-confessed favourite: “What’re you at?”
Chakraborty is originally from Bangladesh, which she describes as a tiny, beautiful, green and warm country in South Asia.
After graduating from law school in neighbouring India, she wanted to see more of the world and further her studies. Canada was her dreamland, she said.
“When I arrived in Newfoundland, I fell in love,” she said. “Three things: Jigg’s dinner, fish and chips, and the Atlantic Ocean.
“All my life I have studied in my geography books about the Atlantic Ocean and here I am, so close to it.”
She brought not only her knowledge of law to the province, but her love of dance.
“I’ve been dancing for quite a long time, since my childhood,” she said. “I have been a trained folk and contemporary dancer and, after coming to Newfoundland, I thought, why don’t I use my learnings, my expertise, what I’ve grown up with and mix it with our own Newfoundland’s cultural platform here? … So, we gave it the name Bollywood Jig.”
POLISHED TO SHINE
Around Chakraborty in her St. John’s dance studio are some of the other members of Bollywood Jig, taking a break after a performance.
Stage co-ordinator Ananya Antony and her brother, Annaay, are originally from Kerala, India. Ananya studies acting at the University of Ottawa and Annaay is a high school student.
Rubthika Hubert is a high school student who has been studying ballet since she was a child and is originally from
Assistant director Tarannum Ahmed Oyshee, from Bangladesh, is an engineering student at Memorial University and is a certified classical dancer.
Chakraborty calls them her diamonds.
“As my dad always says … even a diamond has to be polished to shine,” Chakraborty said. “That skill, talent, we all are given, we all have it, you just need that chance, that opportunity, that platform. I think Bollywood Jig is that platform for all of us.”
Those who move to Canada expect so much to change, Ananya said.
“You’re so used to being surrounded by that sort of energy and then, when you come here, you finally see something like (Bollywood Jig). It’s such a joy, it makes you feel so at home,” she said.
THE UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE
Much like Bollywood films, their dancing is expressive, fun and vibrant, and often tells a story. When performing for Saltwire Network, for instance, their dancing was a comment on how technology, while great in a lot of ways, has reduced human connection.
Like Wi-fi for the human spirit, the style of dance they perform connects the root of where they come from to the root of where they live now, Chakraborty said.
“We’re no more just Bengali, just Indian, just Taiwanese, or just Sri Lankan, we’re all together. That’s what proves that … dancing, performing are so universal. We are connected,” she said.
Bollywood Jig is made up of people from different geographical, professional and dance backgrounds, something Chakraborty is both proud of and excited by.
And while she considers every school of dance beautiful, be it belly dancing, jazz or ballet, “If you haven’t seen Bollywood Jig, you’re missing out on something,” she says.