Vibrant costumes, intricate jewellery and enthusiastic dance are all pieces of the Bollywood puzzle. But more than just a style of music and film, it is a culture. A culture that accepts multiculturalism through a new technique called Bollyfuze.
Founder Reshmi Chetram started Bollyfuze, a division of the Tarana Dance Centre on Middlefield Road in Scarborough.
Bollyfuze, which incorporates Bollywood and fitness, includes all styles and flavours of dance from Latin to Caribbean, aside from classical Indian. Although “it wasn’t planned to become a business, it bloomed” attracting people of all ages and cultures in the community, Chetram says.
“Bollyfuze came about because I’ve been dancing Indian classical dance since I was a child since my mom founded the Tarana Dance Centre, so I’ve always been studying dance,” Chetram says. “The fitness aspect of it had came about when I came back from India where I had studied classical dance training and I was teaching dance classes and I found there was a need for a different demographic of people studying dance in fitness. So it began with a dance program for the community and it grew and grew.”
The studio also serves as an educator to its students on the Bollywood culture by “making it accessible to everyone, offering them a culture so they can take part in it,” Chetram says.
Clothing, music, food and open nights enable students to take part in the culture.
“As soon as the new students come to our classes, they see that our classes are full of all kinds of people who are coming to try Indian dancing and they see that there is nothing that stops them from learning the culture,” Chetram said.
But culture isn’t the only knowledge students in the school acquire. Confidence is a lesson that is promoted in the school.
“I try to challenge [the students] every term. I want them to be well-rounded,” says student and teacher Sheetal Suzanna Dutt, who has been with the Turana Dance Centre for six years.
“Confidence means that there is nothing you can’t do.”
Sheetal was so inspired by the words “dream it, believe it, create it” that she recently started her own class known as Bolly Boot camp. The class, which runs an hour long, is a high-intensity class that runs on a four-point trajectory with a warm-up, choreography, muscle conditioning and a cool down, as stated by Dutt.
“I’m trying to motivate them to be inspired to work out,” Dutt says. “When you have someone to do a workout with, you are compelled.”
As a condensed class, Bolly Boot camp involves a five-minute workout, 15 minutes of choreography for the heart, as well as 35 minutes of circuit training that gives students “the cardio workout they need,” Dutt says.
“Basically the students are sweating buckets, gaining endurance and stamina for future classes, as well as specific workout catered to work on certain body parts,” Dutt says.
Dutt is one of the many students-turned-teachers known as “ambassadors” at the school.
Students have the chance to register and go through intense training and later on teach their own classes in other locations with their own students.
Sharon Junor, a Bollyfuze member of five years, has also had the privilege of teaching her own classes, becoming a certified Bollyfuze instructor after discovering the school through flyers.
“I have been teaching two to three years,” she says. “I love the music, I love the dance and I love teaching other people as well as learning different moves. I also love the people here because we all feel like one big family.”
As a business, Bollyfuze is currently expanding as it is becoming more popular, with classes filling up to 20 to 30 students. With more women currently in the programs, Bollyfuze is focused on launching workshops catering to men and couples. It also serves three locations in the GTA including Scarborough, Richmond Hill and Toronto.
“After all the films and shows, Bollywood completely blew up,” Dutt says. “Everyone wants Bollywood. So many different races and cultures will request different Bollywood music and I try to make their Bollywood experience amazing.”