South Charlotte

Dancers bring Bollywood to Charlotte

Ashima Kodali and Seher Khanna, friends and co-owners of BFit Dance in Matthews, teach a fitness/dance program based on the music of Bollywood.

"Bollywood" is the informal term used the Hindi-language film industry based in Mumbai, India (formerly known as Bombay).

"It's one of the largest film production centers in the world," said Khanna.

Bollywood's reach has been expanding outside India for a while: A.R. Rahman wrote the Academy Award-winning song "Jai Ho" for 2009's best-picture Oscar-winner, "Slumdog Millionaire."

Since then, Bollywood music has gained a large following in the U.S.

Kodali, 44, and Khanna, 36, put together a mix of authentic Indian dance moves and aerobic steps for a fun workout and opened their studio 18 months ago.

"The exercises are distracted by the dancing," said Seher. "The workouts get everyone moving (and) provide an opportunity to meet people and learn about Indian culture."

Kodali, born in Mumbai, has been in Charlotte for four years. "I originally came to the U.S. to attend grad school," she said. "My husband, Vas, a financial consultant, and our two daughters, Resha and Avani, live in the Piper Glen area. We love it."

Kodali speaks four languages and likes to stay busy. She danced classical Indian style for a few years before deciding to incorporate fitness with dance moves. "The music sets the moves," she said.

Khanna, from Karachi, Pakistan, met her husband, Neeraj, at Ohio Wesleyan University. The two earned their masters degrees at University of Pennsylvania before moving to south Charlotte. They also have two daughters: Minaal and Meha, who attend Charlotte Prep.

The two women do their own choreography.

"We have fun, fast-paced moves interspersed with clever dance steps," said Khanna. "We also offer less-intensive moves to accommodate individual needs."

Both women enjoy cooking Indian cuisine, with chicken curry and kofta (meatballs with curry) being favorites.

The website is bfitdance.com; the studio also can be found on Facebook.

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