Flash Mob Twist

Bollyhop turns the street and open spaces into a magical spectacle with young bodies and hearts leaping out into ecstatic flames of dancing joy
Mehru Jaffer Vienna

Katja, 18, had never met an Indian before. Training to be a hair dresser, Katja is still not sure where India is in the geography map. However, her life has changed since Terence Lewis, also known as Shiva, taught her to twist - Bollywood style.

"This is my first exposure to a completely different culture and the experience is amazing, very refreshing," a breathless Katya said just before joining a group of dancers waiting to twist some more to a heady number from Love Aaj Kal. For the past three years, Terence, celebrity choreographer and judge on Zee TV's Dance India Dance, has come to Vienna every summer at the invitation of Austria's ministry of education, art and culture to dance with students here. Two schools are chosen by the ministry for Terence where scores of students between 10 and 18 years dance every evening at a workshop which culminates in a fabulous public performance at Vienna's sprawling shopping mall called Shopping City Sud. 

Over the years, Terence has found a big fan-following. He is adored here as his students rent the air chanting his name to dance on stage. He will soon be seen in the German film Hexe Lilli. This year Terence came with Narendra Patil, a young teacher who moves like a whirling top. Later in July and August, Terence will lead BollyHop, one of the 180 workshops held by Impulz Tanz in different dance styles.

Since the mood reigning in the past at BollyHop workshops for all age groups is in the same spirit as yes we can, Terence is now known here as the Obama of dance. The event is organised by Vienna's Impulz Tanz - Europe's largest contemporary dance festival that enjoys the coveted reputation as the 'Mecca of Movement'. The idea is to get more young people interested in the vibrant and creative formsof contemporary dance from all over the world. 

Workshops at different schools are assigned to other dance gurus like Neils Robitzky, also known as Storm, and Daybee Dorzile from Berlin. Storm, a break dance champion, was in India to teach and perform with the participants of Dance India Dance

This constant exchange of creative ideas between artists and the audience is encouraged to bring life-asserting activities like dance and music out of expensive, closed door performances, to the street, the daily narrative, and to ordinary people. The heart of a gigantic shopping mall serves as an ideal venue on a Saturday morning both for the dancers and those who throng to watch the colourful, joyous spectacle. So infectious is the atmosphere that the dancer's invitation to everyone to Aaja Nachle is immediately grabbed after which the entire cosmos seems to drop all the conspicuous consumption business and buying and selling - to twist, and twist, and twist...

This story is from the print issue of Hardnews: JUNE 2010