We wanted to try something different Warren D'souza and Margaret Rodrigues Getting married: On December 13 Caught: Rehearsing the Rhumba that they will perform for their first dance at their wedding Pic/ Narendra Dangiya
With the wedding season almost here, choreographers are in short supply among Mumbai's Christian couples and their families who want to take private dance lessons in the energetic Rhumba that's replaced the slow Waltz. No time? Try the Masala Mix, a no-training, no-brainer number that's everyone's favourite finds Melissa D'costa
Opposites attract, and we saw that. In between bursts of childlike laughter that pierced through the air at choreographer Conrad Coelho's Vile Parle dance studio, an awkward Warren D'souza and a confident Margaret Rodrigues tried keeping time, their hand and legs in sync, a smile on their face, while Conrad watched their every move. The Malad residents had dropped in on a Sunday evening for a session of training in the Rhumba.
All set to walk the aisle on December 13, Warren, 30, and Margaret, 26, are an excited couple, not just because they can't wait to be married, but because they have a surprise for their family and friends. Instead of the usual Waltz for their , first dance, the two decided to pick the unconventional, high energy and sensual Rhumba, a dance with origins in Cuba. "While Margaret has been learning ballroom dancing for a while, this is the first time I have enrolled for a dance session, so, I am a bit nervous. But we'll be dancing in groups. So that's a consolation," Warren says, breaking into a dimpled smile. "It's been two weeks since we started dancing together, and it's grown into a fun way to relax with Warren," says the HR executive.
Shake a leg you must
Christian weddings in India can't do without serious leg shakes, and while in other communities, the dancing precedes the wedding nuptials and reception, as in the sangeet during North Indian Hindu weddings, among Christians, dancing follows the nuptials. Whether it's a Goan, Manglorean or East Indian wedding, the event is an opportunity for family, friends and well wishers to meet, and have a ball on the dance floor.
Graceful gives way to sexy energy
Eighty year-old JJ Rodriguez has seen scores of couples glide across the chequered floor at his Colaba studio. Director of JJ Rodriguez Cours De Danse, a Ballroom and Latin American dance school, he's been at it for 54 years. Hailing from Goa, dance comes naturally to him. When he moved to Mumbai back in the 1950s, he began teaching his friend on his terrace. Word spread, and winning a dance contest in 1951 for his Rhumba, made him a popular face in the area.
"Previously, most couples chose the Waltz for the first dance, because it's this slow, graceful, romantic number. But today, they want to experiment, do the energetic Tango or the Salsa," says the veteran who is assisted by his wife Dorothy.
The first dance is followed by a round of other dances, depending on what the couple has in mind. They are later joined by family and friends. The bride also makes it a point to dance with her father, giving a cue to the community to join in with the hot favourite Masala Mix. A pot pourri of various dances, the Masala Mix is what the guests, both kids and the old, look forward to. Usually it starts of with the Birdy Dance, a version of the Chicken Dance, where no one minds looking silly clucking while flapping their elbow wings and kicking their feet, as they fall to the ground, and rise again. The Cross Arm dance comes next, and these are numbers that guests from other communities find it simple to imitate too.
Couples strapped for time
The biggest challenge choreographers like Rodriguez face, is to get couples to move to the beats, remembering steps, something that requires practice. But since working couples are strapped for time, they stick to less complicated moves.
Coelho is a resident of Bandra who trains students in Ballroom and Salsa. He explains how it's important for beginners to get trained in understanding music, learn how to count and move to beats. "While some of them pick up steps quickly, others take a while. The first dance is romantic, so I recommend that instead of the Waltz, they try the Rhumba because it has variations, and doesn't require the bride and groom to span the length and breath of the dance floor in their finery."
Parivar learns to dance too
Choreographers conduct regular classes through the year, but the wedding season demands they make time for special sessions. And it's not just the bride and groom that gets tutored to shake a leg. The bridal entourage which usually includes the best man, bridesmaid and their parents, drop in too. Fees vary depending on the dance taught and number of sessions. A beginners level Rhumba and Jive class could cost you Rs 2,500 with Conrad Coelho, while 10 half-hour sessions in Jive, Fox-trot, English Waltz and Cha cha cha would cost you Rs 3,000 with JJ Rodriguez.
Classes at your residence
Hotshot couples who don't quite have the time to make it to a dance institute, can get a tutor to come home for a private session. Darryl Neves, a resident of Khar teaches Jive, Salsa, Waltz and the Foxtrot. "Anyone can learn how to dance. Most are conscious to begin with, but once they keep at it for a bit, confidence creeps in.
Once the practice the moves, they can own the dance floor," he says. Neves conducts classes through the year, and is particularly in demand during the festive season, especially before Christmas and New Year's.
Getting married? Learn dancing here
JJ Rodriguez Cours De Danse Has been teaching: Since 1951 He is a Ballroom and Latin American dance teacher with internationally recognised qualifications. He was trained under the World Ballroom Dance Champions Mr and Mrs Cullipes and Mr and Mrs Johnson. At: Sethna House, first floor, 6, JA Allana Marg, opposite Electric House, Colaba. Call: 22841201 / 22820303 Cost: Rs 2,000 onwards depending on the dance form and number of sessions. Time: Monday to Saturday, from 10 am to 1 pm, and 4 pm to 9 pm Log on to:http://www.dancingwithjjrodriguez.com/
Conrad Coelho's Dance Company Has been teaching: For 8 years. He specialises in Latin American Dances and the LA Salsa. He has the distinction of teaching various lesser known dances such as Merengue, and Bachata in Mumbai. He's trained under international trainers, and incorporates various dance styles. At: Vile Parle (E) on Sunday, Vashi on Saturday and Powai on Friday. Call: 9833171543 Cost: Rs 2,500 onwards depending on the dance form and number of sessions. Log on to:http://www.conradcoelho.com/
Fast Forward Dance Studios Has been teaching: For 4 years Darryl Anthony Neves has trained under various international trainers, and teaches Jive, Salsa, Cha cha cha, Foxtrot and Waltz. At: Mahim, Juhu Gali-Andheri (W), Bandra (W), Lokhandwala Complex, Andheri(W), Powai, Goregaon (W) and Colaba. Call: 9821514044 Cost: Rs 3,000 plus taxes for a 16-hour package, which includes Jive and Salsa. Private sessions at residence cost Rs 500 per person, per session. Log on to: ffdancestudio.com
An East Indian wedding by a well
While the Goans usually tend to stick to Western dances during their celebrations, Mumbai's East Indian Christian Community incorporates a desi twist. In a ceremony called Umbracha Pani, women of the family dressed in vivid coloured sarees worn knee high in a style different from any other Indian community, go dancing to a well to draw water. "The water is drawn in pitchers, and the couple is blessed with this water, and made to bathe in it the next day," says Rhea.
5 Mumbai Macs on dancing at Catholic weddings
Candice Pinto Model Catholic weddings are a social event, where both, music and dancing play a vital role in bringing families, friends and relatives together to share in the joy of the couple.
Clint Fernandes Make-up artist Catholic weddings are all about joining in the celebrations of the bride and groom and having fun. How can any celebration be complete without music and dance?
Diana Penty Model Dance sets the mood for a party. A Catholic wedding is about having a good time together.
Ash Chandler Stand-up comedian Celebrations across the world are marked with music and dancing. So, it's only natural that a Catholic wedding which celebrates the union of two people would include them.
Rahul Da Cunha Theatre director and playwright Music and dance is the very heart and soul of weddings, and all other Catholic celebrations.
The guy who documented the letting-their-hair-down moments
Bangalore-based producer/director/videographer and photographer Ryan Lobo indulges in psychological portraiture, capturing moments when people are alone, removed from a swarm of revellers. His debut exhibition titled, The Wedding Season, that was organised in Mumbai in 2007, included 35 colour and black-and-white images taken at five traditional weddings, some in churches, other in mandaps.
The Wedding Season was born three years ago, when he decided to be a fly on the wall, clicking moments at a friend's wedding, not necessarily after yelling, "Say cheeese!" A lot of these pictures, are "in waiting" shots, he says, like the Catholic bride sitting before the dressing table, her hair and make-up done. All weddings are fun. Are Catholic weddings more fun? If you are referring to a sense of gay abandon, yes."
The waltz was once a low brow village dance
It was the rural men and women who first found the whirling steps of the Waltz appealing. So, originally it was a low-brow dance. It was inappropriate for a man to grip a woman and whirl in a frenzy around the dance floor.
As they Waltzed on the darker side of the room, the kissing and the hugging became bolder. The stately dances of the aristocracy involved keeping your distance.