Now, the group has a name – Bollywood Dance Scene – and is an established community of like-minded people who are dedicated to dance, diversity and inclusivity.
And, in the last three years, interest in and support of Bollywood Dance Scene has grown to the point where the group has been able to do much more than teach dance.
In fact, in 2014, Bollywood Dance Scene became a women-led nonprofit organization with the mission of building community, cultural acceptance and social justice through dance.
Many organizations contact Bollywood Dance Scene to perform at their events. At the Children’s Heartlink annual fundraiser, for example, they created a flash mob of dancers to gather attendees into one room who were otherwise spread about, perusing the silent auction items.
They also partnered with Out in the Backyard, an organization that helps lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people (LGBTQ) to counter isolation by connecting them with each other and community resources.
And they bring their performances to the general public.
Last year, the group made their debut at the Minnesota Fringe Festival with their Bollywood Dance Drama, Hi! Hello! Namaste?
The show sold the highest number of tickets during the highest ticket selling year in Fringe history.
So we asked Bollywood Dance Scene founder, Divya Maiya and her husband Madhu Bangalore, who co-directed last year’s show, to what they attribute their success.
“The show involved people from all walks of life and all ages, and it was a story people could relate to,” says Madhu.
Divya and Madhu, both originally from Bangalore, India, have been in Minnesota for five years. They both have day jobs in the I.T. world, but both are performers at heart.
Divya loves to dance. And Madhu is honing his improv chops at Huge Theater. Within minutes of sitting down and talking with them, you can’t help but like them and catch their enthusiasm. It’s no wonder they have found so much support so quickly.
So how are they going to follow up last year’s Fringe success?
With a cup of Spicy Masala Chai!
Over 60 actors and dancers, young and old and all volunteers, have been rehearsing and preparing a bigger and bolder Bollywood Dance Drama, which begins on July 30.
Created by Divya and Sara Erdman (who also produced last year’s show) and co-directed by Madhu and Stephanie Alexander, Spicy Masala Chai is fun storytelling along with ten elaborate and top-notch dance scenes. It is appropriate for all ages, and per Fringe rules, its run time is less than one hour.
So what’s next after this year’s Fringe?
“Rest!” says Divya. But not really. They have committed to perform at a few more performances, and then, of course, are the Thursday evening dance lessons.
They wouldn’t want it any other way. Although when asked if they plan to return to Bangalore for good one day, they both say yes. It’s where they are from, and it’s where their families are.
Still, their community here makes it easy to stay and difficult to leave.
“It’s great,” adds Madhu. “We really feel like we are a part of something here.”
Check out Spicy Masala Chai at U of M Rarig Center Proscenium (330 21st Ave. S., Minneapolis) the following days and time:
- July 30 at 7:00 pm
- August 1 at 5:30 pm
- August 6 at 5:30 pm
- August 7 at 8:30 pm
- August 8 at 1:00 pm
Finally, for a little glimpse into the color and character of Bollywood Dance Scene, check out this video.