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professor toofaanii publishers, Lansing, MI USA is happy to announce their 49th book
Group Dancers of Indian Cinema (Golden Age and Beyond)
Professor Surjit Singh
Group dancers are also called chorus or backup dancers. Clearly, without them most of the dance sequences would not be too interesting. The reason is that solo performances by the lead characters are rare and usually occur in formal, classical dance settings. For an average movie-goer, these are not very appetizing. Most of the time, though, the main dancer or dancers have to be embedded in a matrix of backup dancers.
The tradition of having other dancers present when the leads are dancing goes back a long way. In the story of the divine dancing pair Radha-Krishna we have Radha's friends almost always present. In fact, sometimes they are so jealous of Radha that Krishna clones himself such that each of Radha's friends thinks that she is the one dancing with him alone.
Quite a few of the folk dances that grew in the middle ages had other dancers besides the lead, sometimes complementing, sometimes mimicking what he or she was doing. As we have seen many times before, this tradition was continued in the theater, silent films, and finally the talkies.
In the talkies, when the dances moved away from the temple or the court to other locations, a need arose for more dancers. These dancers were, unfortunately, very low in the movie industry hierarchy, just above the extras. The extras are the ones sitting in the cafeterias or in parties. You can actually recognize many of them who are common fixtures sometimes for years. Little bit above them are the unheralded group dancers. They are usually hired by dance directors, sometimes called the dance masters or simply masters. They work in groups, get to know each other and typically do not need much rehearsal. They work is reasonably hard, very enjoyable for those who love dancing and pays well, roughly about 5-10 times a secretarial or low-level desk clerk job.
Sadly not much has been written about them. One can forget about biographies, for the most part, even their names are unknown to an average film-goer.
This book is a small effort to name them and have their filmographies written down. Much work still needs to be done.
Paperback, 6 by 9 in, 209 pages. Ts 750 (India), $8.5 (US).
First 15 pages may be seen here
Now You Know!