Basic Bollywood Dance Moves:
A Glossary

Bollywood films are a great resource for learning dance moves, but it can be more difficult for a beginning dancer to learn like that right away. (You wonít believe how many times I played Dola Re Dola from Devdas trying to learn the steps.) Thatís why I created this illustrated glossary of basic Bollywood dance steps, moves and positions Ė to help beginning dancers build a better Bollywood dance foundation so they can eventually move more like Madhuri Dixit and Shah Ruh Khan.

Userís Note

If you know any other basic Bollywood dance moves (whether they have names or not!) that you would like to see added to this list, please let me know.

Upper Body

These moves concentrate on using the waist on up.

Basic (Position)

Loosely clench your fists and lightly rest them on your hips.

Shoulders (Movement)

A coordinated up and down shoulder motion involving both shoulders is integral to many Bollywood moves (as well as Bhangra ones).

Lotus, or First Position (Position)

Start with open palms facing the sky. Extend your arms to the left and right; your open palms should be at the same height as your shoulders and your elbows should create a wide V shape. Keep the thumb neutral but the other fingers extended so that they gradually rise in a scale from the thumb to the bent pinky. This hand posture resembles a lotus blossom.

Second Position (Position)

Each arm should be extended to create an 'L' with your shoulder. Have your palms facing away from you and keep your fingers together, extended and flat, so that there is no space between them. Bend your thumb and curl it into your palm; curl your pointer finger over your thumb. Keep your pinky, ring and middle fingers together, extended and flat.

Third Position (Position)

Each arm should be extended to create an 'L' with your shoulder. Have your palms facing away from you and keep your fingers together, extended and flat, so that there is no space between them. Bend your ring finger and curl it into your palm. Take care to keep your other fingers together, extended and flat.

Fourth Position (Position)

Each arm should be extended to create an ĎLí with your shoulder. Join the fingertips of your thumbs and pointer fingers. The resulting space should resemble an eye. Your middle fingers should lie against your pointer fingers. Extend you pinkies back as far as they will comfortably go and keep your ring fingers in their natural neutral position. Your fingertips should point towards your head.

Prayer (Position)

Bring the palms of your hands together and rest them over your heart. Your forearms should form one continuous line across your chest.

Bud (Position)

Start with an open-facing palm, then bring the tips of your five fingers together to form the shape of a flower bud. Your hands should be at the same height as your shoulders and your elbows should create a wide 'V' shape.

T (Position)

Bring your arms up while bending your elbows as if you were picking something up in front of you with two hands. Face your palms down to the ground (the backs of your hands should face your chin) and bring them to just about where your breasts should start; your forearms should be in line with your biceps and your pointer fingers should be almost touching.

Modified OK (Position)

Touch the tips of your thumb and pointer fingers to form a rounded 'O' shape. Keep your other fingers together, extended and flat.

Extended Prayer (Position)

Press the palms of your hands together over your heart. Keeping the same hands position, extend your arms all the way above your head.

Light Bulb (Movement)

Spread your fingers apart. At the same time, turn your wrist away from your body as if you were screwing in a light bulb and flick your wrist back and forth.

Bangles (Movement)

Clench your hands into fists. Lightly touch the inside of your wrists together Ė as if forming an 'X' shape with your arms. (This movement is especially effective when performed in a series, from side to side or from high to low.)

Bhangra L (Movement)

Extend your thumb and pointer fingers outward to form an 'L' shape, and curl your other three fingers into your palm. Extend your arms straight out in front of you. At the same, sharply rotate (flick) your wrists outwards and bob your shoulders up and down in unison.

Sideways T (Movement)

Get into the 'T' position (explained earlier). At the same time move one elbow upward, the other elbow downward and bend your waist slightly to the side where the elbow points down.

Lower Body

These moves concentrate on using the waist on down.

Basic Step (Step)

Putting your weight on the balls of your feet, quickly bend, raise and lower the left knee, with the left foot slightly forward. Then immediately, but only slightly, lift the right knee as though it were a countermeasure. This step should be quick and fluid.

Heels (Step)

Step out with one foot, your heel making contact with the floor; your toes should be extended and pointing away from the floor. Then your foot should return to the center. (You can step to the front, to the side or on a diagonal.)

Back Point Step (Movement/Step)

Leading with your toe, step behind your other foot and pull your calf behind your other leg. Place your toe on the ground.

Combinations

These moves make use of the dancerís whole body.

Basic Combination

Putting your weight on the balls of your feet, quickly bend, raise and lower the left knee, with the left foot slightly forward. Then immediately, but only slightly, lift the right knee as though it were a countermeasure. This step should be quick and fluid. At the same time, loosely clench your fists and rest them on your hips.

Sideways T + Back Point Step

At the same time, move one elbow upward, the other elbow downward and bend your waist slightly to the side where the elbow points down. Leading with your toe, step behind your other foot and pull your calf behind your other leg. Place your toe on the ground. The downward elbow and the pointed toe should be on the same side of the body.

See Also

Other Instructional Videos