Technique

How This Contemporary Choreographer Teaches Indian Folk Dance

Parijat Desai, right, demonstrating a basic Indian step with her assistant Rohan Sheth. Photo by Kyle Froman

In garba, be-thali (pronounced "beh-tahlee") is the basic step used to travel around the circle counterclockwise and clockwise. Be-thali translates to "two clap." (The phrase in its entirety is a daudiyu, which loosely translates to "running step."It includes multiple steps, like two-clap, three-clap, pivots and turns that are linked as the dancer travels around the circle.) "It's a fun dance, but it's also a communal experience, and you kind of lose yourself in it once you do it for a long time," says Parijat Desai.



Parijat Desai teaches Indian folk dance, bharatanatyam and contemporary dance in New York City. She holds a BA in anthropology from Stanford University and an MFA in choreography from UCLA. Desai founded Parijat Desai Dance Company in 2000 and continues to choreograph, perform and teach throughout the U.S. She is currently an artist in residence at Movement Research in NYC and was a 2013 Fulbright scholar recipient for teaching and research.

Rohan Sheth is a Bollywood fitness teacher and choreographer in New York City.

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