Sometimes art can become a little stale. With music we might see the same trends and recycled beats. With movies, the same story lines, and with dance, a regurgitation of techniques from the past. However, sometimes we get a combination of artistic elements that makes you stop what you're doing and pay attention.
Over the summer we stumbled upon an individual that captured our attention. All of our attention. He brought something new visually, musically, and culturally. That man was Amit Patel. Hailing from Freemont California, Amit began dancing from the age of 10 when his parents signed him up for Bollywood dance classes at their local Indian community center. Amit found the style "cool" and kept with it for a while. He continued to grow his Bollywood dance experience and has been working with "Mona Khan Company" for 14 years in the Bay area.
He noticed a trend sparking around 8 years ago with fusion work and began studying contemporary, ballet and jazz. Now, he has taken all of these studies and combined them all in a style he currently teaches, "Bollywood Heels". The venture started when acclaimed dancer and choreographer Yanis Marshall came to San Francisco to teach a heels workshop.
"Ive never taken a heels class. I never wore heels. I just thought it would be cool to try it and see what that even feels like. In my dance company everyone was like, oh, only girls dance in heels, you're gonna have such a hard time. I've never done it, so I wouldn't know. So why not try it? I tried it and it was honestly one of the most empowering things I've ever done".
After taking the workshop Amit looked for more classes, but there were so few available and there was no one ever doing it to Bollywood music. Three months ago Amit decided to create his own class.
"I grew up dancing to Bollywood music, so why not try and teach a heels class to Bollywood music"
Aside from basically pushing a new style of fusion dance, Amit is a strong advocate for helping breakdown gender stereotypes in entertainment and South-Asian culture.
"There's so many cool things associated with bringing Western and Indian styles together, but it also questions a lot of things in gender roles especially in the South-Asian community where people can be very judgmental and very one-minded. It's cool that it's picking up. Now there are a lot of guys coming to my classes. In my first class, I had two Indian guys come. It was crazy because I've never seen any Indian guys wear heels before."
After his first class Amit spoke to those two guys and was suprised by their response to his class. "We did it, because you're an Indian guy that did it. Otherwise we wouldn't have done it. That was such a cool moment to have."
Amit's artistic venture is undoubtably helping people feel more comfortable and starting a new conversation. Amit is definitely turning heads and inspiring others at a time where we need role-models of diverse backgrounds. We're looking forward to seeing what Amit has in store for us in the future.
"The future is to teach Bollywood heels, Indian contemporary and just refining my technique as a dancer. I'm excited to travel and teach. Being exposed to a whole new set of people is exciting. I want to help legitimize Bollywood and Indian dance forms"
CHECK OUT AMIT IN ACTION
Crazy Kiya Re | Bollywood Heels | Amit Patel | Dhoom 2
Love is Love | Amit Patel Dance Project | Tu Hi Re
"Love is Love" is about normalizing the conversation of what love can look like. Love is universal, it’s something that comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors. This project is something I am proud to have created, it reflects not only what I stand for as an artist, but also what I believe the world has the potential to look like if we all play our part to make our society a more positive and tolerant place. Hopefully this video brings a smile to your day! - Amit Patel