Bollywood dance

Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

I want a new, relaxing workout, but I’m sick of om-ing and wearing ill-fitting yoga pants. Help me. Skip the mat but keep the bare feet at a Dhoonya Dance BollyBasics class. You’ll learn the fundamentals of pop bhangra and Bollywood dance, and simultaneously get in some heart-pumping cardio.

But just watching Dancing with the Stars makes me feel awkward. Each class breaks down the choreography of a popular Bollywood routine into simple-to-follow steps, so you don’t need killer dance moves; an appreciation or interest in Indian pop culture is all that’s required. During our session, instructor Sunita Chaphalkar taught us Slumdog Millionaire’s “Jai Ho.”

How am I gonna pull that off? Like any class, BollyBasics starts with a warm-up. But unlike most, this class will have you learning while stretching: The warm-up mimics the traditional Bollywood moves from the routine you’re about to get schooled on. The majority of the class is spent practicing the dance until you’ve got it down, while Chaphalkar explains the meaning behind the steps. “Jai Ho” is considered a celebration, and just like in a musical, the footwork corresponds to the song lyrics. “Bollywood is very escapist,” Chaphalkar says. “There are bright colors and music in every scene in the movies, and the fusion of dances represents the different parts of India.”

Break it down: How many calories will I dance off per class? The proof is in the sweat. You’ll burn an average of 350 calories in an hour-long BollyBasics class, which hits all major muscle groups, including quads, arms and shoulders. Plus, when you do hip and knee movements, you’re isolating your abs—think of it as standing crunches.

I’m ready for my Bollywood premiere. R.S.V.P. at for a BollyBasics class at one of two locations (Dance Theater Workshop, 219 W 19th St between Seventh and Eighth Aves, 347-644-0052 * Chelsea Studios, 151 W 26th St between Sixth and Seventh Aves). Classes meet Tuesdays 8--9pm, Saturdays noon--1pm and Wednesdays 6--7pm. A four-class package is $60; a drop-in class is $20. Hareepa!—Celia Shatzman

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