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.

Allie Burke, courtesy Lo Cascio

If you'd hear it on the radio, you won't hear it in Anthony Lo Cascio's tap classes.

"If I play a song that my kids know, I'm kind of disappointed in myself," he says. "I either want to be on the cutting edge or playing the classics."

He finds that most of today's trendy tracks lack the depth needed for tap, and that there's a disconnect between kids and popular music. "They have trouble finding the beat compared to older genres," he says.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending
Courtesy Lovely Leaps

After the birth of her daughter in 2018, engineer Lisa McCabe had reservations about returning to the workforce full-time. And while she wanted to stay home with the new baby, she wasn't ready to stop contributing financially to her family (after all, she'd had a successful career designing cables for government drones). So, when she got a call that September from an area preschool to lead its dance program, she saw an opportunity.

The invitation to teach wasn't completely out of the blue. McCabe had grown up dancing in Southern California and had a great reputation from serving as her church's dance teacher and team coach the previous three years (stopping only to take a break as a new mother). She agreed to teach ballet and jazz at the preschool on Fridays and from there created an age-appropriate class based on her own training in the Cecchetti and RAD methods. It was a success: In three months, class enrollment went from six to 24 students, and just one year later, McCabe's blossoming Lovely Leaps brand had contracts with eight preschools and three additional teachers.

Keep reading... Show less
Courtesy Shake the Ground

Dance competitions were among the first events to be shut down when the COVID-19 pandemic exploded in the U.S. in mid-March, and they've been among the last able to restart.

So much of the traditional structure of the competition—large groups of dancers and parents from dozens of different studios; a new city every week—simply won't work in our new pandemic world.

How, then, have competitions been getting by, and what does the future look like?

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.