Bollywood Expressions 101

By Suyash Dwivedi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Suyash Dwivedi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Ever had that moment when you think you just totally killed a routine, and then you watch a video of yourself and realize that your expressions made you look like a crazy person? Just like some dance moves, sometimes what we think we look like doesn’t translate to what our face is actually conveying. Maybe your lip syncing is off, or your facials are dropping during more difficult combos, or you look hyper-focused when you should look like you’re in love. The ability to express different emotions and nuances through your facials is particularly important when it comes to Bollywood dance. So how do you master the art of filmi (or really any) expressions to level up your full performance?

Sing along!

Lip-syncing is a must when dancing to any Bollywood number. You don’t have to memorize the words, but the more you look like the OG singer of the singer, the more convincing you’re going to be on stage. Try watermelon, practice the lyrics, or make the lyrics up, but keep those lips moving!

It’s all about the eyes

Many dancers mistake facials and expressions for simply smiling or frowning, but it’s about so much more than just your mouth. The key to mastering expressions is in the eyes. It’s immediately obvious when a performer is in sync with their routine, because their eyes light up from within. Not sure what we mean? Binge watch a few of Madhuri Dixit’s videos and you’ll get the idea.

Find the meaning

If the song isn’t in a language you understand, take the time to learn the meaning behind the lyrics! This will help you better understand the emotion you need to convey with your expressions. Take the time to really get into the mindset of the character you are playing - it will require almost a meditative level of focus, so make sure to push all those pesky thoughts about your day at work or your to-do-list for tomorrow out of the way.

Get ready for a close-up

Plop yourself down directly in front of a mirror, and practice conveying different emotions. Getting up-close and personal with yourself will force you to analyze your various expressions and critique yourself. It may feel ridiculous at first, but stick with it and we promise you’ll see results. A couple of things to look out for in the mirror: make sure you are lifting your eyebrows slightly to brighten your face, and keep those facial muscles relaxed.