Saturday, October 10, 2009

Bollywood Steps @Victoria Square, Friday 8th October 2009

At last! A Hindi tribute to H, Clare, Faye, Lisa and the other one. Can’t wait to hear their version of ‘5,6,7,8’ (or “Panch, Chhah, Saat, Aath” as you’d say in Hindi…ha…that’s impressed you eh?). What’s that? Oh. It’s not a Hindi Steps tribute band? Shame. I really think there’s some mileage in that. Nope instead it’s a spectacular Bollywood style dance event hosted by Bobby Friction (now that’s a great name for someone in Steps innit?). I have to admit that I’ve never seen an entire Bollywood film, but I’ve seen bits of them and they all seem to feature some kind of dance every 5 minutes or so. If only real life was like that eh? There you are, standing in the queue at Aldi and all of a sudden the old woman in front of you whips off her cardie and starts waving her arms all over the shop and doing that head sticky out thing. Then the geeky 16 year old stacking shelves joins in, scattering packets of pasta (99p for a kilo) as he goes, followed by the heavily tattooed security guard, the slightly scary cashiers (how quick are they…do Aldi provide a stash of speed for everyone?) and that Albanian chap who’s always playing the concertina outside. Soon the entire store is a riot of music, colour and cheapo knock off wannabe brands like ‘Twax Fingers’, ‘Anthrax Toilet Tissue’ and ‘Noddy Form Sanitary Towels’…

Anyway…sadly life ain’t like that but tonight was as close as we’re going to get with a fine troupe of dancers shaking their thang as part of the Town Hall’s 175th anniversary celebrations. Backed by 10 Dhol drummers, lit up by fireworks and featuring a host of flexible young bodies (if I tried to do any of those moves my limbs would snap off) it more than lived up to its claims to be a ‘spectacular’. I was fortunate enough to have a press pass (shhh…don’t tell anyone) and enjoyed a particularly good view of the whole shebang. Choreographed by Birmingham’s very own Simmy Gupta the show’s five years old now and has already played to rapturous receptions all over the shop, but this was its first showing here in Brum. Split into a head spinning 22 sections over 40 minutes or so it’s a little like being dropped slap bang right into the middle of a Bollywood movie – in other words, mad, funky, exotic and more than a touch camp in places. The night kicked off with an all girl dance (dancing in what I’d call a more traditional Bollywood style). Half way through a fountain of water sprayed over them, catching the light as it fell like a million tiny pearls. Quite magical. Next up were a bunch of chaps dressed in tuxes doing a more modern R&B tinged number (some Jacko style moves in there if I’m not very much mistaken). Their neat trick was a Buck’s Fizz style ‘Making Your Mind Up’ trouser rip off, revealing traditional Asian dress underneath. Funky and funny at the same time. The Town Hall made perfect backdrop and, at several points, Dhol drummers and dancers appeared between the columns of the Hall, the lighting casting giant shadows up the walls of the building. The show climaxed with the Wedding scene, culminating in an explosion of fireworks and a mass dance off featuring 175 local schoolchildren who’d been taught some of the moves (makes a nice change from double geography I guess…).

Of course describing dancing’s even harder than describing bands (you’d think after reviewing the odd thousand or so I’d be getting better, but no). Happily Andy (aka DRW-Images) snapped away like man possessed and captured the real flavour of the event far more than my mere words could ever hope to.

PS: The show’s on again at 3pm today…er, right now then…and tonight at 8pm (arrive at 7.30 to learn some steps for yourself). Altogether now…‘‘Panch, Chhah, Saat, Aath’…

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