She is a Bollywood queen in UK. An award-winning choreographer Archana Kumar has her own Bollywood performing arts school, AK Bollywood.
She teaches the moves to toddlers as early as three years, takes Bollywood workout classes for adults to burn that extra weight and tone the body and, of course, teaches the jhatkas and matkas of Bollywood that is quite a rage in UK and Europe.
Archana Kumar with her son
Excerpts from an e-mail interview with The Indian Diaspora by Kavita Bajeli-Datt:
Tell me about your journey and how you were able to set up your own Bollywood academy?
It was my dad that got me into dancing. From a young age my dad always put me forward to dance for Diwali functions, house parties and school events. Every time a Bollywood song came on I’d be looked upon to show some new moves. The interest rose from then really, I ended up enjoying dance and performing. I furthered my interest with professional training in different dance styles and that organically escalated into the teaching of dance. Hiten, my husband, was very keen to get AK started, he gave me the confidence and support to get it established.
How big is the academy now?
AK has been running for five years now and I couldn’t be more proud. We now have a fully-fledged institution offering classes on a weekly basis, after school activities, workout sessions in gyms, tutorials for corporate clients, weddings and events. We educate children and adults on dance, bring out their inner confidence and offer them opportunities on a local and commercial platform.
AK has over 150 students. We cater for children as young as three years, offering them dance skills through play and singing sessions. We offer basic, intermediate and advance tutorials in different dance forms such as hip hop, salsa, contemporary and pure Bollywood. Our Bollywood workout classes are very popular, allowing you to tone up, lose weight with high intensity cardio moves.
AK’s entertainment side has been very busy too as its wedding season. We’ve been working on some fantastic couple dances, a family flash mob and a few workshops where we’ve been invited to teach 200+ guest some Bollywood and bhangra - everyone loves a little twist with the light bulb.
Do you have Indians only in your academy or people from other nationalities are also part of this popular dance form?
Our dance school is open to everyone and we have a great mix. Bollywood dance is an Indian form of dancing but we are here to educate everyone and anyone that’s interested in learning it and most importantly to those that enjoy it.
How popular is Bollywood in UK and Europe?
The international appeal of Bollywood dancing is something that has been in the making for many decades. Originally, it was found only in places where Indian movies were popular. But today it is rising in popularity in the UK and Europe. Films such as the Oscar winning movie “Slumdog Millionaire” has brought Bollywood to a global spotlight. Much of this is due to the ever expanding Indian diaspora.
What we have noticed however that non-Indians are getting more and more fascinated by the exotic, qualities of Bollywood and Bollywood dance. Stars like Madonna, Shakira and Britney Spears have incorporated the Bollywood style of dance or music into their songs and videos which has helped to push to other communities.
Please list some of your famous shows where your work was widely appreciated?
We have performed at many high profile events and on some very big platforms like the Wembley Stadium, Wembley Arena, Trafalgar Square, ICC Birmingham, Cadagon Hall, Watford Palace Theatre, London Palladium
I’ve managed to work alongside great artists and names - Gary Linkear, Salman Khan, Falak Shabir, Sony, Zee TV, B4U and Starplus. Choreographed and performed at London Palladium, Trafalgar Square, ICC Birmingham, Cadagon Hall, Watford Palace theatre...and many more.
I was titled Champion of UK’s Battle of Bollywood in 2006 and later won the Yash Raj Aaja Nachle dance competition. With my experience, knowledge and background, I’ve been able to train a team of dancers working for AK ranging from contemporary, Bollywood, hop hop and salsa. We work together to choreograph and perform for weddings, workshops, team building exercises, corporate events and TV productions.
My style of teaching is fun and unique, I’d like to think I understand straight away what my clients are looking for and we are able to deliver that and much more.
Tell us about your Indian roots?
My family is from Surat, India. I was born here (in UK) but have been back and forth to India for trips, training and visiting family. I am 32, married and a mother of two beautiful kids – five-year old boy and 17 month-old dancing diva.
(Kavita Bajeli-Datt can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
For Video link - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBITZh18P1UY8imGubeLESQ