The following is a post by Angela Alvarado, CPT, RYT-200 Integrative Yoga Instructor and Belly Motions Bollywood Performance Company Member in Miami, Florida.
My dance journey began with a fascination I developed for Indian culture. Through a former relationship, I experienced many customs of Indian people. There were spiritual gatherings, or Puja’s, for prayers and blessings, Indian dancing and of course, music! I became educated on the meaning of many Hindu Deities, such as Ganesh (Remover of Obstacles), Saraswati (Goddess of Knowledge and Arts) and Lakshmi (Bestower of Prosperity and Wealth). I savored the rich and spicy flavors of India and took delight in traditional homemade Indian meals. I became completely immersed. These were wonderful experiences that ultimately led me to discover Bollywood dance…and even more so, myself.
As luck would have it, a friend introduced me to Narayani Maharaj, a local Bollywood dancer here in Miami. At first encounter, I was intrigued by her presence. She was a gentle, warm-spirit and beautiful young lady with long braided black hair and a sparkly bindi on her forehead. We spoke for hours about Yoga and dance and soon came to realize we had so much in common.
Narayani soon invited me to attend a live Bollywood performance at a local restaurant where she performed weekly. During her performance, she smiled often and engaged the audience through her eyes and facial expressions. Her costume flowed flawlessly as she twirled and spun striking up mudras, or hand gestures, with ease. I was in awe.
That night, I met several of the Bollywood students from Belly Motions, a world dance studio in South Miami where Narayani taught. Together we enjoyed Indian cuisine and even became part of the show with an impromptu “follow-me” by Narayani. As my first time dancing in front of a large crowd I was nervous, however Narayani’s enthusiasm alleviated my anxiety and I enjoyed every moment!
Months later, I was invited to the Belly Motions Annual Theater Show showcasing many different styles of world dance. It was here that Bollywood and Classical Indian Dance reignited a flame in my heart. It was a fascinating and enchanting experience. I fell in love all over again and decided to take Bollywood classes with Narayani at Belly Motions.
At first, I remember having a few doubts. I thought to myself, “Will I be good enough?”, “Will they require previous dance experience?”, “Will this help me on my continued journey of self-discovery?”
My worries were soon at ease after meeting Belly Motions studio owner Portia Lange and learning of her vision to empower women of all ages and abilities through dance. I felt much more confident and eager to begin Bollywood Dance classes at her studio.
In fact, I remember my first dance class experience. The studio was warm, filled with music and I was happily greeted by Narayani. I began to follow along which usually comes natural to me, but I soon discovered the intricacy of Indian mudras and footwork. I was challenged, intrigued and totally inspired! I left the studio that night with “mudra homework” and a new sense of self. Thanks to Narayani’s guidance and enthusiasm I began to believe in myself and this allowed me to truly enjoy her Bollywood dance classes.
Fast forward and a few years later, I find myself as an official member of the Belly Motions Bollywood Performance Company performing across South Florida in private and community events. Who knew I would get to this level? Our company even had the opportunity to perform with the famous EDC DJ KHSHMR for Miami Ultra Music Festival 2017. I recall the moment we sailed away from the Mandarin Hotel enjoying the calm water and a spectacular skyline view of Downtown Miami. We then docked at Bayfront Park where we were granted backstage access and received VIP treatment. Wow, it was such an incredible experience.
Narayani’s Bollywood classes are always dynamic, creative and fun! As we complete each new combination I get more and more excited because learning a choreography is like building a puzzle; the closer we get in putting all the pieces together, the sooner we get to see Narayani’s creativity and vision.
Had I allowed my original doubts to stray me from trying Bollywood dance, I certainly would have missed out on SO many wonderful experiences, friendships and the opportunity of being taught and empowered by the most talented Bollywood Instructor in Miami, Narayani Maharaj.
I absolutely recommend and encourage others to join Bollywood dance classes at Belly Motions. They are a ton of fun. There’s no previous dance experience necessary and everyone is so warm and welcoming.
In the quest to find myself, Bollywood found me!
“What you seek is seeking you!”