Rangeela Dance Company brings Bollywood Fusion to Seattle – South Seattle Emerald
by Amanda Ong
Since 2016, Rangeela Dance Company has been the premier Bollywood fusion dance venue in Seattle. Rangeela, founded by Priyanka Jain Vora, teaches and offers Bollywood, BollyCardio, Bhangra, BollyHop, Urban Bollywood, Garba Funk, BollyContemp and BollyClassical dances.
“I really wanted to create a platform for post-graduate adult dancers to come together and not necessarily compete, but create dance pieces together, create art together, share it with our community, teach dance workshops, teach our routines to adults and children everywhere,” Vora said in an interview with the South Seattle Emerald. “And then also play in the community to celebrate our culture. Ultimately, my goal is to preserve our Indian culture and pass it on to future generations. I really think doing that through dance and art is a really powerful way to get that message across.
Vora is trained in classical Indian dance Bharatanatyam, which she studied for 11 years in addition to other Indian dance forms, such as Bollywood, Garba and folk. Once in college, she was captain of the Bollywood fusion dance team. There she was exposed to other styles, such as contemporary and modern. For many colleges, South Asian dance teams can be intensive in training and competition. After moving from Boston to Seattle, she founded Rangeela as a way to truly connect with the dance community and reach the specific population of post-college dancers who may no longer know what place dance has in their lives.
Vora was studying physical therapy while teaching Bollywood cardio classes on the side and choreographing for events and weddings. “My personal goal was, after college, to keep dancing and figure out how to keep that in my life,” Vora said. “And then I realized there had to be other people like me, and that’s how I found my community in Seattle, other dancers who shared that same passion. And then it just grew and grew and grew, and now we’re a pretty big organization.
Since then, Rangeela has been featured in an exhibit at the Museum of History and Industry and performed at major corporate and nonprofit events, including Boeing, Microsoft, Zillow, Facebook and Chaya API. Rangeela has also worked and performed for the Seattle Art Museum, the Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Northwest Folklife Festival, where they performed last Monday.
“Our most exciting company [event] was Boeing,” Vora said. “It was a grand opening for their new aircraft made by Boeing. And it’s an Indian airline, so Boeing made this airline, this aircraft. And so we played the opening gala for this aircraft. C was pretty cool.
Rangeela also has a thriving Youtube channel. During the pandemic, he started creating YouTube videos, like 15-minute Bollywood cardio and HIIT workouts, some of which reached almost a million views. His YouTube connections have also connected him with guest instructors from around the world, including famous YouTube dancers as well as famous Bollywood choreographers.
Vora’s passion for making Bollywood and Indian dance accessible is tied to her own strong bond with dance. “Dancing…for me, personally, is a source of Vedic meditation,” Vora said. “When I’m dancing or when I’m choreographing or directing a piece…it’s like I’m completely immersing myself in the art, which is so exciting.”
Rangeela’s classes are mostly for adults, but he also runs classes for kids — like his upcoming summer workshop — and even classes for seniors. “I’m also a physical therapist, so I’m a women’s health, pelvic and female health physical therapist,” Vora said. “So we designed a class for seniors.”
The Indian community in Seattle has been a major supporter of the Rangeela Dance Company community, although anyone is welcome to take classes at Rangeela even if they have no Bollywood dance experience. Vora says much of the Indian community she encountered is split between recent immigrants and American Indians raised in the United States. “Regardless of our backgrounds, we’re all equally passionate about celebrating our culture through dance,” Vora said of the community. “To see how similar we are, too, in wanting to preserve the culture and maintain it and share it with everyone, it’s really gratifying, it really makes us smile every day.”
Vora says Rangeela is blessed with an incredibly strong team, working together to do marketing, choreography, sales and race practice. His dedicated and supportive team is like family, and they’re all extremely passionate about what they do, with most juggling their jobs there and another full-time job. “They’re looking for a way to break free, a way to exercise, a way to learn, a way to connect with other people outside of work,” Vora said. “And I think that’s a really important aspect of their well-being, for fitness, for happiness, for community, for social reasons. Some of my dancers need a family of dancers. … And we truly welcome them with open arms.
More than anything, as the only Bollywood-focused dance company in Seattle, Rangeela offers a kind of cultural dance that is very underrepresented in the Pacific Northwest. “We’re really bringing a change to Seattle, where there really wasn’t a lot of high-quality Bollywood [and other South Asian] dance,” Vora said. “There weren’t a lot of really solid, high-quality representations of where people could go to choreograph their weddings or take classes on a regular basis and find these friends who also wanted to learn dance after college. .”
To try dance lessons at the Rangeela Dance Company at 340 15th Ave. E. Suite 101, visit his websiteor sign up your kids for her summer dance workshop series by emailing Rangeela.
This is part of a series of articles sponsored by the Seattle Office of Economic Development in recognition of Asian Indian, Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
Amanda Ong (she) is a Chinese-American writer from California. She is currently a master’s candidate in the University of Washington’s Museology program and graduated from Columbia University in 2020 with degrees in Creative Writing and Ethnic and Racial Studies.
📸 Featured Image: The Rangeela Dance Company was founded in 2016 by Priyanka Jain Vora. (Photo: Amit Bhardawaj)
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