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All Music Is Belly Dance Music

All Music Is Belly Dance Music

Over the last 8 years, a lot of my students have asked me where they can find great “belly dance music”. My answer is “on your favourite playlist”.

Bitter To Fitter

Bitter To Fitter

This post was authored by Protima Tiwary, and originally appeared on TwitterGetsFitter. “You don’t need to go to the gym, you’re so thin already!” “Gain some weight, which boy will like such a stick?” “You need to lose some weight if you want to get […]

The Man With The Uptown Funk

The Man With The Uptown Funk

Let me tell you a little story about how I came to meet one of the most amazing dancers I know. This was back in 2010-2011, and I was looking to learn a new dance form. I had managed to learn salsa, and was already teaching belly dance at that point. But my body craved a different, more challenging movement. Fortuitously, a listing in the newspaper caught my eye. “Jazz Funk classes”, it read. So I called the number, and headed over to try out a class. And that’s when I met Dhiraj Bakshi.

Dhiraj Bakshi Jazz Funk | The Dance Floor

Dhiraj Bakshi is the kind of dancer whom you can’t take your eyes off of. And I’m not talking just about the form and finesse he brings to the floor.  It’s the energy and sheer love of dance that you can see radiate from him as he performs, teaches, or even speaks about dance.

Having begun his dance journey at the age of 14, Dhiraj quickly realised that it was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. After training extensively with The Danceworx, Dhiraj Bakshi founded Split Sole Dance Academy in Mumbai.

As with most dancers in our country, Dhiraj too had to face a fair amount of societal judgment and hindrances while making a career in dance. “Honestly, it only helped me to challenge myself and get better at it”, he adds candidly.

Dhiraj Bakshi | SSDA | The Dance Floor

And get better he did!

With Split Sole Dance Academy (SSDA), Dhiraj Bakshi massively changed the dance scene in Mumbai. In a city that offered innumerable Bollywood and contemporary dance classes, Jazz Funk emerged fresh and energetic. Dance lovers in the city had a new form to explore, one that combined the grace and strength of ballet with the groove and energy of hip-hop. Pirouettes were suddenly cooler, and dropping into a full split was bada$$.

Dhiraj’s dance journey took a star-studded turn when he was a part of Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa, teamed up with British model & actor Scarlett Wilson.

Dhiraj strongly credits Ashley Lobo and Jason of The Danceworx with shaping his career as a dancer. Post training with them, he slowly began to teach himself and explore more dance styles. Says Dhiraj, “I think most dancers and choreographers today will agree that there comes a stage in your dancing career where you begin to learn and explore more and more by yourself eventually. “

SSDA has created and shaped several talented dancers over the years, some of whom are now brilliant instructors themselves (including Mrigakshi Jaiswal and Shazeb Sheikh!). Every year, the academy celebrates its students and instructors with a spectacular showcase, aptly titled ‘Show Off’! With this year’s edition right around the corner, Dhiraj tells me, “Show Off has always been about being what you are and not worrying about judgement and breaking inhibitions. The journey has been great and overwhelming!”

A glimpse of 'Show Off' by SSDA

And that’s not all! Dhiraj also recently opened his own dance studio, Studio Doodles, in Mumbai. The space, like him, celebrates dance in all its glory. Take a look at it in this great video (if you can take your eyes off the brilliant dancing, that is!)

Dance school, TV show, stage shows, studio… So what’s next for Dhiraj Bakshi? “Next big goal is to open expand in a different city apart from Mumbai.” Well, I’m certainly looking forward to that! 😀

And of course, before letting him go, Dhiraj was subjected to The Dance Floor’s talk-show-esque Rapid Fire!

The Dance Floor: Which city in the world is your happy place?

Dhiraj Bakshi: Bombay (Yay! Also, he gets bonus points from me for calling it ‘Bombay’ and not ‘Mumbai’!)

TDF: One thing most people don’t know about you.

Dhiraj: My nickname is ‘Appu’.

TDF: Split soles or sneakers?

Dhiraj: Sneakers

TDF: Pasta or pani puri?

Dhiraj: Pani puri.

TDF: Your greatest fear?

Dhiraj: To wake up one day and know I can’t dance. (Gah!) But I do Yoga, so I’ll be fine. (Phew)

TDF: If you weren’t a dancer, you would be…?

Dhiraj: An archaeologist! (I’m sure we could “dig” that! 😛 )

TDF: What’s your favourite way to spend a day?

Dhiraj: At my studio, Studio Doodles.

TDF: Is there any dancer you hope to dance alongside someday? Or any such idol whom you’ve been lucky enough to dance with?

Dhiraj: I want to dance with Lyle Beniga.

TDF: Your guilty pleasure.

Dhiraj: I enjoy telling people “No” when they come up with something (sometimes, even if they are right). But there’s a logic behind it and that is that if I say no they usually turn around and come up with something better and then we have options.

TDF: There are so many new dance forms and studios emerging in India now. What do you think we as a country need to do to encourage more performing arts?

Dhiraj: Awareness of training, and [for students] being patient with it.

Dhiraj Bakshi is based out of Mumbai, India and conducts regular classes at Studio Doodles in Khar (West), as well as several workshops across the country. You can follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. He can be contacted at .

Like this post? Don’t forget to share it with friends who might enjoy it, too! 🙂

Behind The Motivation

Behind The Motivation

It has been a few months now of people calling me “inspirational” and “a fitness motivation”. I am yet to relate to those labels at all, but am very grateful that people view me as such. The TwitterGetsFitter movement allowed me the honour of helping […]

Gyms Can Be Intimidating…

Gyms Can Be Intimidating…

Every newbie on their fitness journey knows that gyms can be intimidating. Gadgets, gizmos, gym bodies… Protima Tiwary tells you how to deal with it all!

How Long Does It Take To Change Your Life?

How Long Does It Take To Change Your Life?

What if I told you, you could change your life and be a whole new person in as little as a month?

Change Your Life | Bombay Bellyrina

Sound far-fetched? I imagine it would.
The largely popular concept of ’21 days to form a habit’ is actually a misinterpreted byte from Dr. Maxwell Maltz’s research. Dr. Maltz, a cosmetic surgeon, observed that whenever he performed a procedure on a patient — say, a nose job — it took the patient about 21 days to adjust to seeing their new look. Similarly, patients who had limbs amputated would sense phantom limb and associated pain for about 21 days before their bodies adjusted. His further studies and research led him to the realisation that it took him at least 21 days to form a new habit. He commented upon this observation in the book, Pyscho-Cybernetics, where he mentions, “These, and many other commonly observed phenomena tend to show that it requires a minimum of about 21 days for an old mental image to dissolve and a new one to jell.”
Unfortunately, people seem to have skimmed over the ‘minimum of’ part.
So how long does it really take to change your life?

How Long Does It Take To Change Your Life | Bombay Bellyrina

Well, it depends on the change.
Habit formation, or automaticity, happens when an action you take becomes a natural and instinctive move. This could be as simple as drinking a glass of water when you wake up everyday, or as powerful as setting aside a few hundred bucks everyday towards a vacation fund. What I have observed, and what I believe most people will agree to, is that 21 days is the bare minimum you need to bring an activity to automaticity.
When I started the TwitterGetsFitter movement, one of the greatest things I was relying upon to keep it going, was habit formation. Working on one’s fitness is a popular goal — indeed, one that features in nearly every person’s list of New Year resolutions. But the biggest reason fitness attempts in particular tend to die a swift death, is how long it takes to see results. People who drop out usually do so within the first 2 weeks.

It Takes Consistent Effort To Change Your Life | Bombay Bellyrina

It’s important to remember that habit formation happens in stages, and that the quickest way to upset your attempts is to give up. We have evolved into a highly impatient species, and that’s our biggest hurdle when it comes to automaticity.
Here are a few tips to help turn that resolution into a habit:
  • Where possible, bring time and/or place into the equation. It is easier to train the brain to repeat an action if it is associated with a particular time or place. For example, if you repeatedly go for a run as soon as you’re back from work, your mind starts to associate entering your home after work as a cue to go running. While you may have an off day now & then, it is more likely that you end up doing what your subconscious is urging you to do.
  • Try to form a new habit, or replace an old one. It is significantly easier to train your mind to accept a new habit, than to ditch an old one. Battling a late-night snacking problem? Instead of trying (and possibly failing) at abstaining, try to train yourself to respond differently. So whenever you feel the urge to snack, drink a glass of water instead. Better yet, do 30 jumping jacks!
  • Crush the cue. If you can ascertain a certain cue that triggers a negative habit that you’re trying to be rid of, your chances of quashing the habit are considerably higher. Take for instance, an urge to buy a packet of chips as you wait for the train or bus home from work. Once you’ve identified the trigger, it’s easier to anticipate the unwanted habit and prepare yourself for it. Instead, make sure you prepare a small snack box ahead of time (ideally from home) with an assortment of fruit and/or nuts. You still snack, but you’ve battled the unhealthy part of it.
  • Allow yourself an off day. While it’s ideal to stick to your endeavours unwaveringly, it is all too normal to slip up once or twice. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Give yourself permission to make mistakes, and devise strategies to get you back on track.
  • Embrace a longer timeline. If you’re going to obsess over the 21-day (or however long) deadline, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Understand and consciously accept that it may take longer, sometimes up to 40 or even 60 days. Commit to focusing on the habit, rather than the deadline.
  • Get a wingman. Having someone who keeps you motivated and accountable can be a great kick in the pants, especially on days you’re feeling close to quitting. Accountability is one the biggest reasons TwitterGetsFitter has worked as well as it has, as its 200+ participants will agree.
At the end of the day, however, it is important to realise that what matters isn’t how long it takes you to change your life. Your outcome is determined by your commitment to the process, regardless of its duration. Even Aristotle defined excellence as a habit.
You can’t determine whether it’ll take 21 days or 200 until you get moving on Day 1.

This post was originally published on the Kilter blog

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