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It’s fun as well as exercise in a dance class for seniors
The Surrey Hills Neighbourhood Centre was already abuzz with Bollywood dances ke chaahne wale as I entered. While Yvonne said she lived a street away, Kerin had travelled all the way from distant Altona Meadows so as not to miss the rare opportunity to learn engaging Bollywood dancing.
As part of this year’s 33rd Victorian Seniors Festival, older members of the community were invited to take part in a low-impact movement Bollywood dance class.
After typically Hindustani delays in last-minute preparations, Assistant Manager Melanie Sanders invited us inside the hall, while Hung To, of activity sponsor Alpha Hearing, adorned some 35 visibly keen-to-learn seniors’ necks with colourful silk scarves for our Bollywood dancing lesson. Most of us happily donated a gold coin towards expenses.
Then salwar-kameez attired and eager to teach, Jagriti Bhatia, Director, Ignite Bollywood Dance Company, her dupatta meaningfully wrapped around the waist, introduced herself and initiated the no back-flips program of active ageing through Bollywood dancing.
First things first, Jagriti advised that if suffering with a physical constraint, one could not participate in the dancing, but instead enjoy the enthralling moves just watching the rest of us perform.
Hands folded and with a mini-bow, the humble Indian greeting, Namaste – was vocally practiced and well received.
Then, the movement called ‘Ha-ha’: two steps either side, shoulders up and down, and movement of arms, hands and wrists was introduced.
As the initial Ha-ha was rather lukewarm, energetic Jagriti demanded we put life into it, and continued roars of enthusiasm resulted.
The next movement introduced, ‘Basketball’ saw the seniors, their arms raised high – this side and that, stretch themselves in ball-throwing postures. This was also adopted with as much gusto. With most seniors by now panting, a two-minute break was allowed.
Now came the vigorous ‘Dog Owner’ step, in which imagined dogs on leads at the beach were tugged from one side of the body to another, shoulders to toes going wild with movements. The seniors mimed walking on their toes on the sand, as fast and loud Bollywood songs were being played.
A thirty-minute introductory workout quite sufficient as the first lesson, the seniors greeted each other, prayed that such afternoons of sheer learning enjoyment would persist even beyond the Seniors’ Week, and then enjoyed dhokla, biscuits, eclairs and tea/coffee.