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BaliSpirit Festival 2010: Yoga + Bollywood!

One of the terrific features of the BaliSpirit Festival is the blending of yoga and music with dance and chanting workshops. The 2010 edition featured
a wide range of dance: African, legong, “alchemystic,” kecak, Balinese, hoop – and, for the first time, Bollywood dance!

The yoga community is more familiar with Indian classical music and bhajans/kirtans, so Bollywood was quite a novelty for some. The three workshops are
offered by a gorgeous creative duo of sisters from Australia: Shamila and Zerina Millard.

Shamila and Zerina are of Indian descent: their mother is from Kerala and then moved to Malaysia, and their father is Australian. “I am able to retain
a wonderful connection to my cultural heritage whilst expressing my experience of contemporary multi-cultural Australia,” says Shamila.

Shamila has trained and performed in classical Indian, Brazilian, Latin, African, hip-hop, contemporary and firedance. Zerina has also trained in dance
and has performed overseas; she is a trained yoga teacher as well.

Together, they offer courses in Australia and abroad as the Bollywood Sisters (
They define Bollywood as “a joyful modern Indian dance blending classical and traditional Indian, Afro-Latin, hip-hop and bellydance.” They also offer
combination retreats of yoga, meditation, dance warm ups, henna painting and watching Bollywood movies!

The Bollywood Sisters’ workshops were the first time I heard Bollywood dance moves explained with descriptions like “Cut the grass,” “Polish the rainbow,”
and “Hug a tree!”

In an interview after their workshop, they said their message to the audience was to have fun while experiencing the joys of Indian performing culture.
Their workshops are set to contemporary Bollywood sound and modern lounge, and they said they would like to explore more vintage classic Bollywood
sound and dance as well.

They have not performed yet in India, so I suggested that they perform at Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, a big gathering of expat Indians and people of Indian
origin, held every January in Delhi. And in the true collaboration style of BaliSpirit Festival, I even suggested they bring in indigenous Australian
music influences into their performances, with some of the Australian artistes performing at the Festival this year (such as Gunga Giri on the didgeridoo!).

Both sisters said they love Bali for its relaxed atmosphere, friendly people, superb blend of aesthetics in daily life, and even the hot humid weather.
As the Indian community grows in strength in Australia, more musicians will experiment with fusion sounds, and hopefully we can soon hear counterparts
to Talvin Singh, Karsh Kale, and Apache Indian emerging down under! There are already groups exploring devotional collaboration, such as Byron Bay’s
Sankirtan Group, who performed at the Festival last night.

Written by : Madanmohan Rao



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