BUFFALO, N.Y. — Bollywood dancing is an intricate art form.
“You feel the music and then you feel what you're actually supposed to be doing with the choreography," said Vilona Trachtenberg, who is learning Bollywood dance. "It just flows and you feel good.”
Over the past three years, Trachtenberg has grown to love Bollywood dance.
“Learning the different movements and feeling the different muscles," she said. "Completely brand new and it's really cool to learn.”
Teaching all those intricate motions is Gaitrie Subryan, the founder and teacher at Devi Bollywood Dance in Buffalo.
“My favorite style is Kathak and Garba,” she said.
She’s passing on the heritage of her own ancestors.
“My family is originally from India. We came from Bihar as indentured servants, and so during that time, it was really just your religion and your culture that you really held onto,” she said.
For her, the biggest influence may have come from the screen.
“When I was growing up in the Bronx, we would sit every weekend and watch these Bollywood movies and I just fell in love with it,” she recalled.
She's been passing on her passion for the past 10 years.
"We dance for everything,” Subryan said.
The knowledge about Indian culture doesn’t stop with dance lessons.
“The different performances, the different vendors, she'll bring in the different foods," explained Trachtenberg. "We'll do a Friday night bonding and different things, so it's a whole community space she’s bringing.”
For Subryan, the facial expressions, hand gestures and how the body moves are all big.
“It's fun, but there is a deeper side to it, of course,” she said.
Equally as important though, is understanding a different culture.
“I remember teaching a bunch of high school girls [...] and they're like, 'Yeah, we know Bollywood. We saw it on the Cheetah Girls,' and I was just like, 'yes, it was there,'" laughed Subryan. "But it's not until you fully come into it and experience it for yourself that you can really and truly understand it.”
For many of these dancers, it's exactly that which will keep them coming back for more.
“My teacher has always said Indian classical dance, Indian music...it's an ocean. You can never say that you're done. [...] With the culture, with the tradition, with the dance forms, there's so much to it," Subryan said. "Just dip your toe in and try it”
Subryan is one of many people who received funding from the state’s Creatives Rebuild New York: Guaranteed Income for Artists program. That helped her move into a space of her own.
To learn more about the class or to sign up, click here.