By Varun Gurunath
I am in the premier Bollywood dance troupe NDM Dance Productions. Our choreographer and artistic director, Nakul Dev Mahajan, received a call that "America's Best Dance Crew" wanted to do a Bollywood challenge for one of their episodes. He and our troupe jumped at the offer and after endless hours of sweat, pain, and focus to perfect different Bollywood dance styles and techniques to present to the crews, the 14-hour-day that followed was totally worth it.
The day started off well. We got our wardrobe and got our makeup and hair done (girls first, obviously). After the girls finished teaching the first piece almost two hours later, the whole troupe realized we were in for a long night. But it didn't go by slow at all, because after a piece was done, it was off to wardrobe to change and get back on stage for more dancing.
When the time came for my first performance, I was a bit nervous. I've done a lot of on-camera work in front of huge audiences so I usually don't get nervous. But this opportunity was huge for the troupe and I wanted to leave a lasting impression on these crews to show them what Bollywood is all about, since many of them aren't really familiar with this international dance style.
As the crews joined me on stage, I held my stage smile for about 20 minutes as they got reaction shots of the crews, so I think my cheek muscles are stronger than ever at this point. The director counted down for the music to be cued and I took a deep breath and danced as hard as I could for the next 30 seconds. Little did I know I would be doing it four more times after that, with the same amount of energy and precision each time.
The best part of filming each piece was interacting with the dance crews after the performance. Seeing some of them quickly pick up the choreography and automatically incorporating it into their own style of dance really opened my eyes as to how technical and disciplined they are. Every single time, there was fusion of Indian dancing with a crew's unique style of hip-hop, popping, b-boying and Latin dance.
After six routines and 14 hours later, we called it a wrap. At the end of the day, this experience proved to me that dance is a universal language which can be understood by everyone, and "America's Best Dance Crew" definitely made that statement with this episode.
Tune in to "America's Best Dance Crew" on MTV this Sunday, August 30, to watch these crews incorporate different Indian dance styles into their routines for the Bollywood challenge!