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Leyla and Roland Jouvana’s „Oriental Festival Europe“ is widely known for introducing dance artists from all continents on Earth. Some years ago a dancer from India caught our attention, who didn’t perform dances of her home country, but real belly dance and she did this proper. In our first talk she revealed to us her mission of spreading Middle Eastern dances all over the Indian sub continent.
Last year we saw her again at Leyla and Roland Jouvana’s “Oriental Festival Europe”, but this time in a duet with Indian dancer Shruthi Kulkarni and they both did a breath taking Bollywood piece. Had Payal given up on belly dance? No, and this is her answer: They danced Oriental/Bollywood fusion, the “dernier cri” in India. Check this out below …
Have you done more work with Shruthi or are you planning to do so?

Yes. Shruthi Kulkarni is actually working as a senior instructor and troupe member of “Payal's Dance Academy”ensemble, so we do quite a few acts together.

Now Bollywood is famous for being a joyous mixture of classical Indian dances with other styles, after seeing your duet there seems to be no limit for fusing Bollywood. Is there something like Bollywood Fusion arising and would you see yourself of one of its leading figures?

Yes Bollywood is actually becoming quite popular as a fusion style as well. The latest is the fusion of Bollywood with Belly dancing which is highly appealing to the Indian audiences. Well, yeah I could consider myself as one of its leading figures.

"My goal is to give Belly dance its due credit as an art form in India” can be read on your site. Also, when we interviewed you last time, you stressed the point of spreading belly dance throughout India. How successful have you been with this mission since?

I have now started to travel to various cities in India to teach Belly dancing and this is the path I wanted to take in the direction of the aim that I have. So yes, I’m moving closer to the goal step by step since its not only wide spread in my home city but its also starting to gain momentum in other cities.
You are a very gifted dancer in both worlds - Indian dance and Belly Dance - how do you cope with both?

Well I am more recognised with regards to belly dancing as compared to Indian Dance since in India it’s a very common thing to know Indian dance. But, yes, I have garnered some attention towards my Indian dancing skills as a result of the fusion of belly dance with the Indian dances.

We will see you again at this year's "Oriental Dance Festival" in Duisburg, Germany, organized by Leyla and Roland Jouvana. What will you show us there on stage, what will you teach us in your workshop?

I will be performing a Bollywood fusion with belly dance and will also be teaching the same in my workshop since it will be a new and interesting concept for the festival participants.

What are you planning for the future?

Well, for the future I have planned firstly to make belly dance a widely learnt and respected art form in India and secondly make belly dance festivals in India with international teachers, workshops, competition, and shows to raise the bar and the standard of belly dancing in India with every progressing year.

Thanks and regards,
Payal Gupta

Photo right: Payal and Shruthi are dancing a breathtaking Bollywood-Choreography after a song by the famous actress and dancer Madhuri Dixit (Festival Leyla Jouvana 2014)
Payal is guest at the 23rd Oriental Dance Festival of Europe:
How has life been to you since our last interview?

Life has been great. Since I last spoke to you I have won some categories in the competitions at Leyla's festival. And we have made lots of progress in my city (Bangalore in the state of Mysore) and my country India with belly dance. So, in all it’s been great.

How is “Payal's Dance Academy” blossoming?

Well, “Payal's dance academy” is doing great, too. We have more people now taking more workshops and getting more involved and studying belly dance deeper as just one course. We have a good professional performing troupe now and we perform for shows and events.

Last year, when at Leyla Jouvana's festival in Duisburg, Germany, you showed us - in a duet with Shruthi Kulkarni - a very modern piece of Bollywood dance. Would you explain to us, what happened there on stage.

Yes actually that piece is a typical Bollywood dance number with a lot of meaning to it and we only modernised the costuming. It was a song by the famous actress and dancer "Madhuri Dixit".

Interview with
Payal Gupta

by Marcel Bieger