International Booty-Shaking

Photo courtesy of
‘Embassy of India Dance Performers’ (Dhoonya Dance)
courtesy of ‘Mr. T in DC’

So, on a lark, I signed up for a Bollywood dance class. I figured I’d get to listen to some music I’m not familiar with, work out on a predictable schedule, and have a little fun. I even signed up for my dance studio’s recital, figuring that if I was going to put all that effort into learning, I might as well perform. But I didn’t really invite anyone to attend- first of all, I’m 30 years old and felt a little weird talking about my dance recital. Secondly, the last dance recital I went to was an interminable bore- class after class of tiny kids who couldn’t remember the steps, progressing up into teenagers, and finally getting to the experienced classes at the end of the night. Hearing that our show was going to last two and a half hours, I decided I didn’t want to subject them to it.

Now I feel bad, because I completely underestimated the appeal of a recital put on by a studio specializing in world dance styles. My friends probably would have enjoyed it quite a bit. Flamenco! Belly dance! Salsa! Bollywood! Hip-hop! (hey, American styles have to be represented too). Scarves! Veils! Ankle bells! Cheering and whooping like would never happen at the ballet. (Oh, and by the way, my class’ performance went very well and rocked the house just as much as everyone else’s.)

So if Jenn’s enthusiasm for her belly dance class or my Twitter-gushing about Bollywood class has sparked any interest at all, I’ve got a roundup of how to find a class that works for you.

In the District, there’s Joy of Motion, which offers classes in belly dance, as well as hip-hop, breakdance, and more traditional disciplines.  Flashpoint provides space to companies offering instruction in Latin American dance and belly dance. Dhoonya Dance, based in Arlington, occasionally offers Bollywood workshops in that space as well, though their classes are scattered throughout the Virginia suburbs. At Born 2 Dance in Vienna, for example. Which, being outside the Beltway, is a little farther out for what I’d usually write about here, but it’s where I take classes and I really like them, so there. They offer not just multiple levels of Bollywood, Hip-Hop, Salsa, and Belly Dance, but also Persian dance, which I had not previously seen. (It’s kind of like belly dance, but not. You should see some.) And of course, there’s Saffron Dance in Clarendon.

But that brings me to probably my most important tip for finding a dance class that works for you. Go to some performances. When you see a troupe you particularly enjoy, or when a friend comes gushing to you about this great show they saw, check out the company’s website. Unless they’re with some city’s metropolitan ballet touring company, most professional dancers don’t just perform for a living. So when you find a performer or company that you like, chances are, they offer classes as well. Go to their website, figure out where they teach (it’s frequently more than one location), and pick a class that works for you. Usually, the company or studio will let you observe or even participate in a class before committing to a full session. Which is how I ended up taking classes in Vienna rather than Clarendon- I dropped-in to one in Vienna and became instantly fond of the instructor.

And then prepare to wear a sequin-covered costume while your friends cheer you on. It’s fun, I promise.

Tiffany Baxendell Bridge is an Internet enthusiast and an incurable smartass. When not heckling the neighborhood political scene on Twitter, she can be found goofing off with her ukulele, Bollywood dancing, or obsessing about cult TV. She is That Woman With the Baby In the Bar.

Tiffany lives in Brookland with her husband Tom, son Charlie, and two high-maintenance cats. Read why Tiffany loves DC.

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6 thoughts on “International Booty-Shaking

  1. If you belong to Washington Sports Club, they offer Masala Bhangra classes at the Capitol Hill, Columbia Heights, Gallery Place, and Silver Spring branches. They’re a lot of fun, and a good workout.

  2. Bhangra is crazy, with the jumping and the bouncing and stuff. The class I took was sort of a Bolly/Bhangra hybrid, when you get right down to it (probably easier to teach that stuff to beginners), and it was really hard work. But totally fun. :)

  3. spices, food, culture, religion, philosophy, architecture, medicine, math, science, astronomy, spirtuality, etc etc. and oh now dance

    there is something to be said for a 4000+ year old culture

  4. If you’d rather Bollywood dance at home – check out DVDs from Hemalayaa. You can find them at most Barnes & Nobles’ and Borders’. She has a fun program, “Bollywood Booty.”

  5. Dhoonya is having a “bring a friend for free” special this Wednesday and next Wednesday only (June 10 & 17) at the BollyBasics class in Friendship Heights. 6:30 at 4908 Wisconsin Avenue.

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