What would you do if one day an email lands in your inbox offering you a dance contract in India? To most, this scenario seems pretty obscure, a little far-fetched and altogether mental, but not for Lowri Jackson.
Moving roughly 4,466 miles away, Jackson left London for Mumbai in April 2019 for a six-month contract. With such an influential dance culture in India, there begs the question of why they look outside of the country for talent, but Jackson explains, "My initial thoughts were why do they need white girls in Bollywood films? But I then learned that it's pretty much any culture that is in the films."
With a diverse group of dancers, the Indian way of working has its differences compared to the London scene, "the way they work was definitely a shock." says Jackson. "With really early starts and 16, 17 hour days, to get on that body clock and have that much energy for so long was pretty difficult." Long days, a different time zone and a change in climate is a lot to handle, but every challenge results in a pot of gold, right?
Jackson's pot of gold came in the form of a blockbuster movie. "I think my most memorable dance moment in India is when we filmed a movie called War. It was the biggest film of the year in 2019 beating Avengers Endgame. To be in the biggest movie of the year was pretty memorable and it took many hours of rehearsing and over two months for just one song." After a bit of head-scratching over different currency numbers, War at the box office made £4.75 billion compared to Endgame's £1.23 billion – that is a massive number for a film that you might not have even heard of.
There are different ways that a dancer can be involved in a movie, Jackson explains how it worked for her, "every movie has a few songs in it, and they always have one song that promotes the film that ends up going in the charts which they do a music video for." She continues, "mainly, my job was dancing in the background of the stars and singers who were promoting the film, or we did the songs actually in the film."
Dancing behind the 'star' of the scene doesn't stop the wardrobe department from rubbing their hands together and pulling out some looks though. "The costumes in Bollywood are ridiculous, and they're so over the top. I love it!" Jackson goes on to highlight a particular costume memory from her time in India, "one of the most difficult costumes I ever had to dance in was when we did Indian Big Brother, and we were introducing the presenter on stage. We had this lovely dance, and it was quite a small stage, but then they gave us the costumes, and it was like Victoria Secret wings. It was the wingspan of both my arms put out together maybe even longer, and then they just threw us on stage! We just kept bumping into each other, and we couldn't move because they were so heavy, that was hilarious."
So whether you're in the biggest movie of the year or getting smacked left right and centre by a pair of wings on Big Brother, Bollywood will undoubtedly leave a smile on your face.
By Niamh Rooney
Images courtesy of Lowri Jackson