Jaya Karan and Joshinder Chaggar grew up watching Bollywood movies but say the Hindi film industry, and the exuberant dance style it features, was not well known at the time outside of the Indian community.
Whilst Jaya loved dancing, it was only after she had children, having already established herself as a physiotherapist, felt compelled to pursue Bollywood dancing as a career.
‘That began this whole journey of starting my own Bollywood dance company,’ she says. Her company now performs regularly at a range of public and private events.
She also started Studio J Dance, which usually employs a dozen teachers who run 17 classes a week in the various Indian dance styles (classes are currently being run online).
After a 60-year-old student enrolled in a beginner class, Jaya decided a class specifically for seniors was needed and she approached her friend and fellow dancer, Joshinder, to teach the class.
Joshinder had experienced a similar journey of ignoring the pull of dancing as a career before the classic book by Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist, convinced her to follow her dreams. Those dreams led her to become a full-time artist and dance teacher in Pakistan for over a decade before returning to Australia.
Joshinder jumped at the opportunity to lead the seniors class, forming firm friendships with a core group of four students who were keen to make sure the class continued.
‘We were making a loss but kept going because we felt it was important and the students were committed,’ Jaya says.
Being featured in the 2019 Victorian Seniors Festival program proved to be a turning point. ‘Enrolments exploded. Suddenly all these people found out about us and that’s all it needed. It’s amazing.’ Joshinder says. ‘We’re fully booked, and the seniors are loving it.’
Watch Jaya and Joshinda's performance now.