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About Indian Dance: Bollywood

Updated: Mar 3, 2023

By Amira Hamzar

© Amira Hamzar 2020

The term Bollywood refers to the booming Indian cinema industry. Bombay, the epicenter of the Indian film scene, is the bustling city where these vibrant films, famous for their storytelling, dance, and music, are made. When you combine the word Bombay with Hollywood, you get “Bollywood”. India’s film industry is the largest in the world and produces twice as many movies per year as compared to Hollywood.

Bollywood films are usually dramatic and alluring musicals. They can be set in exotic locations such as the Himalayan mountain ranges, royal palaces in the desert, the streets of foreign cities, or even on top of a moving train. They almost always feature colorful dance routines with dramatic facial expressions and hand movements.

Many of the Bollywood dance moves come from Masala Bhangra, a folk dance from northern India. But there are classical Indian dance influences as well; including Bharatnatyam and Kathak, which is performed to poetic love songs. This mixture, or Masala, of moves that make up a Bollywood routine, have both Eastern and Western influences; including Bellydance, Jazz, Hip-Hop, and even Latin. This variety, as well as the fast-pace, gives Bollywood its “flavor”. These dance steps are sassy, bigger than life, and infectiously fun.

The music can vary, depending upon the genre of the film. It can range from southern (Carnatic) or northern (Hindustan) instrumentation. The rhythms are often set to a western beat. All Bollywood songs are lip-synched by the main star, who is usually accompanied by background dancers.

Indian society appreciates a curvy woman, so you will see all shapes and sizes shimmying to the Bollywood beat!

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