From the beginning of the M.A.D. Bollywood Dance Company’s Apr. 7 “Jashan 2013” performance at Valencia High School here, it was apparent that this was no ordinary youth recital.
In a mélange of color and dance by its students and professional dancers, M.A.D. doubled the spotlight to celebrate 100 years of Indian cinema, graced by Bollywood celebrities such as famed actress Preeti Jhangiani and renowned Bollywood choreographer and chief guest of honor Terence Lewis.
Artistic director and founder Reetu Patel, whose passion for dance stems from her early years in the Bollywood industry, began the company in 2010 and astutely bifurcated her choreography and teaching goals with the creation of Jashan, the student academy, as well as a dance company that is armed with a bevy of professional dancers who are the face of M.A.D. for major productions.
M.A.D.’s star-studded red carpet opening drew a large crowd which gushed and ushered in Jhangiani, her husband and director Parvin Dabas, and Lewis. The stars were welcomed by Patel and the show’s host, television announcer Jeff Krapf, who conducted their interviews for TV Asia.
Jhangiani is currently shooting four films, and promoted an upcoming Punjabi film called “Bikkar Bai Sentimental” during an interview. The actress made time from her heavy schedule to attend and perform with the M.A.D. dancers.
Lewis, considered by Patel as the “face of Jashan,” is the current Season 5 judge for the popular TV show “Nach Baliye” who also took time out of his hectic schedule to return for a third year at “Jashan” to motivate and award students who demonstrated the “passion” factor. For Lewis, it is not just about technique but dancing “like their lives depended on it.”
As the show began, few could have foreseen Krapf amalgamating an evening of humor and wit with old and new Bollywood themes, but by the end of the evening the San Diego-based announcer had won over the crowd. Lewis, in spite of his earnest mispronunciations of Indian proper names, his “affable and endearing” personality was clearly a show stealer.
Patel and her teaching crew rigorously choreographed and trained roughly 70 dancers, many of them Indian Americans, ranging from ages 5 to 25 for their fourth annual performance featuring Indian contemporary dance, bhangra sufiana, kathak and bharat natyam styles.
Out of roughly 24 presentations, inclusive of four solos, the Jashan dance teams swayed, swiveled their hips, pirouetted and lip-synced to popular Hindi songs for the first half of the show.
A dance troupe named White Swans kicked off the show with a fluid dance tribute to Madhubala with the song “Aaiye Meherban” from the 1958 vintage film, “Howrah Bridge.”
Against a Bollywood-like movie set backdrop and under bright dazzling lights, young dance troupes labeled Bollywood Divas, Razzling Dazzlers and Emerging Stars donned props ranging from sunglasses to twirling umbrellas and bobbed to blockbuster song and dance pieces from the 1978 film “Don,” as well as works by Helen and Rekha.
A beautiful solo which evoked Lewis’s shout-out of “well done” was Kriti Kadambe’s presentation of “Mere Dholna Sun” from the 2007 film “Bhool Bhulaiyaa.” Kadambe would later win the 2013 Star of Jashan award during the final award ceremony.
The last portion of the show included approximately four performances, inclusive of the M.A.D. dance company, Reetu Patel and the much anticipated grand finale by Jhangiani.
Patel made a dazzling entrance in bright attire, writhing to “Dil to Pagal Hai.” The M.A.D. dancers energetically supported Patel and strikingly contrasted her, attired in sexy black shorts accented with long boots.
A top notch performance followed as audiences were treated with a visual feast and homage to Yash Chopra’s love of Switzerland as per Patel. Billowy white sheets engulfed the stage recreating the airy, snow-peaked mountains of the Alps as dancers encircled with modern movements to “Saans” from the 2012 film “Jab Tak Hai Jaan.”
The set later trickled with bold props such as a large heart in which Jhangiani symbolically caged herself in to parallel the trapped heroine storyline in her movie “Mohabbatein.”
The music was choreographed with a theme song from the film as well as a mix of latest hits such as “Zara Zara Touch Me” from “Race” along with a few other spliced hits. The actress continued to sizzle with “Sheila Ki Jawani” from “Tees Maar Khan” as the piece morphed into a true to life Bollywood production which closed with “Fevicol” from “Dabang 2.”
The show ended with an appreciative award ceremony as Lewis congratulated the dancers.