After their 2014 smash hit Hi! Hello! Namaste?, Bollywood Dance Scene Twin Cities became the darling of the Minnesota Fringe Festival, selling out shows and earning rave reviews from devoted fans.
Now, the company is breaking out on their own with a Bollywood Performing Arts Festival, MinneUtsav, and taking their Bollywood awesomeness to the next level.
Divya Maiya co-founded the group in 2012 with Rashi Mangalick and Jinal Vakil as a way to share Indian culture and movement with a broad audience. After last year’s festival, they felt it was time to put on a show independent of the event.
“We decided to try something outside on our own, because we’ve been consistently selling out at the Fringe,” she says. “We thought we might have an audience that was interested.”
Their plan was to do something more experimental for this year’s Fringe Festival, and put on a bigger show afterward on their own. Unfortunately, they didn’t get selected from the lottery system, so they had to come up with a Plan B.
Not doing the Fringe this year was a bit of a blessing in disguise, says Maiya, as they could focus on the new show. She hopes this year’s Bollywood performing arts festival will be the first of many, and in the future, they hope to bring in more groups participate. “It’s a great opportunity to have this as a pilot program,” Maiya says.
The cornerstone of the festival is "Love You Zindagi,” which explores mental health through the lens of Bollywood. The festival will include panel discussions after the performances with experts talking about resources, especially in the South Asian community.
“Love You Zindagi” follows the company’s formula from their past Fringe productions, where they’ve combined music, dance, and storytelling around a social issue topic.
The festival will also include a body-positive fashion show highlighting South Asian fashion by local designers, and an improv show by the local group Bollyprov, which “is exactly like a Bollywood movie with a lot of animated drama and music and dancing involved,” Maiya says. Two improvisers will perform, with “a lot of music breaks where the story progresses and in the background.”
In addition to the performances, the festival will feature classes and workshops for both kids and adults, so you can try your hand at some fusion-style dance incorporating everything from Indian classical dance to hip hop to jazz.
“Love You Zindagi” plays Nov. 1, 3, 4, 5, 8 and 11 (7 p.m. on all days except Saturday at 6 p.m. and 2 p.m. Sunday) at Steppingstone Theatre. Tickets are $15 adults, $10 kids.
“BollyProv” performs Nov. 5 and 9 at Huge Theatre. Tickets are $10.
Bolly to the Max fashion show is on Nov. 10 at the Lumber Exchange Building.