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Teach Bollywood Dance? Me??

Bollywood Groove at World Music Festival
An enthusiastic crowd dancing with Ajanta at World Music Festival, 2010

My personal journey as a Bollywood dancer started at age 5. Living in India, it was a little difficult to escape it. Mom sent me to classical Indian dance training and, despising every moment of it as a 10-year-old, I still learned the fundamentals of dance, movement and technique that comes handy every dancing moment of my life.

As I grew older, dance took a backstep as, like every other Indian kid, I immersed myself into an attempt to become a doctor or an engineer, the two favorite professions of middle-class India.

Years later, after coming to California, an instructor surprised me by offering me a teaching position. “Teach dance? Me?” I was terrified! I showed up in class without any training and showed a bunch of moves to a semi-beginner class. They stared at me as if I was from a different planet and I knew I was in trouble. However, eight weeks and one stage show later, I not only learned the concept of “breaking down the moves” but also discovered my biggest passion, teaching Bollywood dance!

From there, there was no stopping.  I continued to teach and perform for various companies in Bay Area where Bollywood is so available that it has become a commodity. I still continued with my effort to sneak in a little more quality, a little more meaning to my content. In 2008, I decided to start my own dance company. The goal was to provide an environment where dancers of all dance styles from around globe had a platform to work together. The company, while it did not make me any richer, provided unlimited experiences both good and bad and in some ways were life changing.

Earlier this year, I left all of that behind to move to Evanston. I even managed to not dance for a whole month and then realized the futility of fighting destiny. I re-started my classes and was overwhelmed with the warmth and support of Chicagoland people. I was most impressed by their desire to experience India and Indian culture through my dance classes and performances and everywhere I went, people danced with me – irrespective of their background, ethnicity, prior experience with Indian dances and so on.

So here I am, few months into my new endeavor, Bollywood Groove, and hoping to increase awareness about Indian dances in a way that is accessible to all. I have been blessed by many fantastic performance and teaching opportunities and I hope I continue to receive the same Chicago love for years to come!

From a California transplant who is loving every moment of dancing in Chicago!

– Ajanta (

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