Profile of the Month | Arzan Gonda
She got the smile, she got the moves. Arzan Gonda will wrap you around her little finger and make you dance like a Bollywood star. Recently in the news, Rhythm India Artistic Director Arzan Gonda sat down down for a luncheon chat with Houston Society Magazine Lights Camera Action host Ruchi Mukherjee.
On Friday April 13, Rhythm India Dance Company performed at half-time during a Rockets game at the Toyota Center for the the second time. The Rhythm India Dance Company & Dhol Beat International were featured in the Rockets-Suns half-time show; twenty-two of Rhythm India’s Senior and Junior Company Dancers and five percussionists of Dhol Beat International performed to a medley of Bollywood songs.
Recently in news as your dance company performed live at the Rockets half-time. Tell us the experience.
It was a very special day for us and for the Indian Community. Rhythm India was immensely proud to be a part of it and it was a hair raising experience to perform in front an audience that comprised of 18,000 people. We wanted our performance to be remembered. The goal was to have every one of those 18,000 people feel what we felt and clap or dance with us even if they didn’t understand the lyrics or know the songs. We looked at it as a celebration of our Indian Culture and we danced our hearts out and as one of our company dancers said, it felt as if the world just stopped for those four minutes that we were dancing.
We would like to thank our ever supporting community who came out to cheer & celebrate with us. There were over 700 desi supporters at this game.
How much time did it take to get ready for the show?
It took us about 3 months of rigorous training and rehearsals on weekends to coordinate the entire production. A lot of hard work and dedication.
Tell us some of the funniest experiences you had with your students?
Too many to list:
One of them was bumping into Yao Ming during a rehearsal at the Toyota Center as he was getting out of the elevator, which we were waiting to get on to. Four of our dancers who were crazy Yao Ming fans completely lost it when they saw him. One of them dropped their purse, the other dropped her phone and the other two were hysterically shrieking and jumping. I had to tell them to calm down in Hindi, as we didn’t want to scare the living day lights out of him, and embarrass ourselves, I guess it was too late for both.
We have a tradition at Rhythm India, we eat lots of bananas before a show as it gives one an instant energy boost. So every year on my birthday I have students who make me cards with bananas on them or pictures of us eating bananas.
Well, my formal training has been in the art form of Bharata Natyam, which will always have a special place in my heart. I think the most exciting aspect of Bollywood Dance is the fact that it is a fusion of various styles and forms of dance. Over the years Bollywood has developed it’s own signature style of song and dance, which combines the rich texture of India’s many classical and folk dances, fused with elements of Jazz, Hip – Hop, Arabic and Latin Forms. Every song has a different style, feeling and meaning, which makes it so unique and so diverse. I love the larger than life qualities inherent in it, be it the lavish sets or extravagant costumes. One minute you could be performing a western contemporary piece the next moment a semi classical song. There’s never ever a dull moment.
What is your all time favorite Bollywood dance form?
That’s a hard one to answer. For me it’s more about the songs that I connect with, be it the melody or the rhythm. I have semi-classical, hip hop based and Bhangra songs that are on my list of top 10 Bollywood dance forms.
The Rhythm India Dance Company was founded in 2005 by Artistic Director Arzan Gonda. Since then, the Rhythm India Dance Company has enthralled audiences all over the state with their performances. They were the first ever Bollwyood Dance Company to perform at Half time last year at the Rockets game. Rhythm India was also the opening act for the Jai Ho “A.R Rahman Concert” in 2010.
The Company strives to create public awareness of South Asian culture and make dance accessible to everyone. Classes are currently held at several Houston locations every day of the week. All ages are welcome, and students range in skill from beginners to dance professionals – classes are specifically catered to skill level and age.