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My Journey as a Bollywood Dance Mom

BILB Dance Mom, Punam Patel and her daughter

Dance Moms is a current reality TV show that depicts actual dancers' moms negatively. The mama bears on this show keep pushing their kids to be the best ballet, hip-hop, jazz/tap, or Bollywood dancer, whether they want to or not. Children are pushed to the brink of tears and emotional and physical pain to achieve a perfect performance. Sometimes I wonder if I am perceived as one of those moms? Why do so many women push their kids into dance and inherit that negative title? Why did I?

I strive to be the opposite. When I was a young adult just starting a family, I reflected on how I always wanted to have a talent for dancing. The day that my daughter came into my life, I knew that it was something I needed to give her. Not just any dance, but Bollywood and semi-classical dance.

At the age of 4, I started her in another Indian dance academy. Every time I dropped her off, she would cry and hold my leg. I wondered if I was doing the right thing, that maybe this wasn't for my child. But when I looked around and saw all of the other 4-year-olds walking into that class, half of them had tears and some cried the whole class. That gave me some comfort to know that this was a 4-year-old thing and not just my child or the dance itself. Besides the complication of tears, it was a simple time with a 30 minute, once a week class to look forward to on a Saturday morning.

As my daughter got older and more confident in her dancing abilities, my life, on the other hand, got more complicated. Being a working mom and wife and balancing one Bollywood dance class would have been fine and easy. However, that's not reality, is it? What about the soccer practices and games and the ballet class on the side, not to mention, the countless projects and homework, family obligations, and social commitments. Where do we fit it all in?

I learned very quickly that the way to approach all of this is to see what gives my daughter the most joy and where she smiles, laughs, and tugs me towards the most. For me, this was Bollywood with BILB. At the age of 4, my daughter was living my dream but I saw that change by the age of 6 when she joined BILB. This is where I realized that my dream had become hers.

Her tears had turned into her smiles and laughter and love of the art of Bollywood and Semi-classical dance. The little girl that once would not let go of my leg, now walked without looking back into her BILB classes with confidence and happiness. She absorbed the guidance of her caring and ever so talented dance teacher.

At that moment, I realized that being a Dance Mom is not a bad thing. It's a title I hold proudly through the years as my now 12-year-old daughter performs on stage at shows and competitions. I see her getting ready in those beautiful costumes and putting on that stage make-up with excitement and slight nervousness for her upcoming performances.

Over these years, Bollywood dancing has taught her grace, spunk and a level of confidence that I could never have taught her myself. It was well worth the financial investment, juggling priorities, missing family events, and passing up social invitations. It was worth rushing home from work to take her to practices and driving extra miles to performances.

Now all I can think about is how one day, she will have a daughter or son of her own and their journey won't begin with her regret of not ever having a talent and that is because her Mom became a Bollywood Dance Mom.


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