How to Learn the Dandiya Dance

Written by j. lynn patten
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How to Learn the Dandiya Dance
Indian dances evoke emotions - think energy and colour when dancing the dandiya dance (bursting energy image by thea walstra from Fotolia.com)

The dandiya dance is an energetic Indian folk dance, enjoyed by groups of people. It is most often danced in a group of people moving in two circles anti-clockwise. The dance gets its name from the use of the two colourful sticks - the dandiyas - that each dancer is holding.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • 2 dandiyas (sticks) per dancer

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Instructions

    Basics of Dandiya

  1. 1

    Face your partner, holding one stick in each hand. Keep your knees soft and arms bent at the elbows. Feel the rhythm of the music and allow your body to bounce slightly in time. Make eye contact and a connection with your partner.

    Your feet and hands will be moving to the same beat at different rhythms. Let's say your arms will be moving at the pace one-and-two-and-three-and-four-and while the feet will be moving at the pace one-ball change-two-ball change-three-ball change-four ball change. In essence, the "one, two, three, four" of both the hands and feet happen at the same moment, while the "and" and the "ball-change" have to happen in the same moment. Therefore, "ball-change" is done at a quicker pace.

  2. 2

    Hit your right hand sticks together approximately head level on the first count. Execute this correctly by sweeping your right out towards your left and hitting your partner's stick as you sweep back towards the right. Simultaneously, step onto your left foot and do a ball-change. In other words, step on your left foot, quickly shift weight into the ball of the right foot and quickly shift weight back to the left foot. These are your steps "one-and" and "one-ball change."

  3. 3

    Now mirror the last move on the other side. Sweep your left arm out towards your right and hit your partner's stick as you sweep back towards the left. Step on the right foot, ball-change. This is "two-and" and "two-ball change."

  4. 4

    Strike your own sticks together in an 'X' about shoulder level slightly off to the left side, right stick striking on top of left. Step on the left foot, ball-change. This is "three-and" and "three-ball change."

  5. 5

    Hit both of your sticks together with your partner's sticks above your heads, with your own two sticks forming an 'X.' Step on your right foot, ball-change. This is "four-and" and "four-ball change."

  6. 6

    Once you are comfortable with those basic steps, you can exchange places with your partner. Start moving as you are hitting your sticks above your heads in an 'X' as described in the previous step. Step to the left (or towards the outside right of your partner) and once you have stepped past your partner as he is passing you, turn towards your left until you are once again facing your partner.

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