Sonalee Vyas Dance Troupe Brings Bollywood to DCCC


Sept. 30, 2014 – Sonalee Vyas Dance Company, North America’s first Bollywood professional dance troupe, brought its colorful, high-energy performance to Davidson County Community College’s Mary E. Rittling Conference on Monday. An audience composed of DCCC students, faculty and staff were in attendance for the hour-long event.

The New York based troupe, which was one-day removed from a performance at Madison Square Garden where they entertained India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, treated the audiences to the sights and sounds of what is the joyous world of Bollywood.

Bollywood, which takes its name from a merging of both Hollywood and Bombay (now, modern day Mumbai) is often described as Indian cinema. Bollywood mixes dancing styles from all four corners of India and incorporates songs that depict a variety of world music, climatic-theatrical scenes and songs of celebration. The theme of Monday’s performance was “Celebrating Yourself and Those You Are With,” however, Bollywood celebrates just about anything from relationships to friendships to love of family to life itself.

“It’s very important where I come from (that) everyday is a celebration,” says Sonalee Vyas-Jani, founder and president of the dance company. “It’s a beautiful thing in times like these, it lets you bring something that is so unique, fun and energetic and travel around to different places to share this tradition – the joy of what this dancing brings.”

Vyas-Jani spent 13 years in India, where she was trained in Bharata Natyam, a classical southern Indian dance form that can take up to five years to learn. Since coming to the U.S., she has added the influences of ballet, jazz, hip-hop and tap dancing to her Bollywood performances along with other traditional and folk dances from India.

“I feel dancing is always a fun thing to watch and it brings so many smiles. Bollywood is great because there’s so much sharing of different dance styles from India and (it) incorporates different dance styles from America,” adds Vyas-Jani. “It’s amazing that we can travel with it and spread our joy of dancing.”

Five of the nearly 40 performers who make up the Sonalee Vyas Dance Company made the trip to Davidson County. In addition to spirited dancing and rhythmic Hindi-based music, the DCCC audience was treated to vibrantly beautiful costumes. Vyas-Jani and her two female counterparts performed in ornate Ghagra Choli, a traditional clothing, which translates to “skirt” and “top.” The two male members of the group wore sequined gold and white costumes. According to Vyas-Jani, the costumes are meant to be fancy and festive and represent the colorful culture of India.

The event concluded with members of the audience joining the troupe for a folk-style dance known as, Bhangra. The dance, which is often used at weddings and requires a great deal of strength and stamina, produced a lot of smiles along with a few drops of sweat.

No worries though, in true authentic Bollywood style, everything ended, happy.

Editor’s Note: In the photo, Sonalee Vyas-Jani is joined by DCCC students and others in a final Bollywood dance.

Founded in 1963, Davidson County Community College is noted for its quality educational programs and services. As one of 58 institutions within the North Carolina Community College System, DCCC offers studies in more than 50 degree programs. A fully-accredited, multi-campus college, DCCC celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. It is committed to developing minds, inspiring imaginations, and preparing students for enhanced career and educational opportunities within a changing global environment. Visit Davidson County Community College on the Web at