According to Kajal Desai and Priya Pandya, co-founders of the dance and fitness company Doonya, it was a photocopied flier that brought them together.
Eight years ago, Desai and Pandya were just two young women pursuing their careers in Washington, D.C. Both had studied Indian dance since childhood and both were itching to begin some sort of dance-related project.
“Priya had kind of started the idea of Doonya and she was advertising [for a partner],” said Desai in a recent phone conversation. “I was thinking of doing the same thing and my friends saw the flier and suggested I contact her.”
“We hit it off immediately.”
The result was Doonya, a dance company that currently offers classes in New York City and D.C. During the hour-long classes, students learn a choreographed routine to a Bollywood song, while also focusing on building their strength and conditioning.
Through word of mouth the student body grew and media attention soon followed. In 2007, Desai left her job at Booz Allen to work on Doonya full-time while Pandya went to business school, later returning to the company after finishing her degree. Since then, Desai and Pandya have brought Bollywood dance to everyone from Dr. Oz to Kathie Lee and Hoda.
Last month the pair released Doonya: The Bollywood Dance Workout, their first workout DVD set. The trilogy starts with a “Bollywood Breakdown,” while the second and third DVDs focus on conditioning and weight loss. Before production, Desai became certified by the American Council of Exercise, and both instructors learned about the human body and the best techniques to get into shape.
While Desai says that she and Pandya had been talking about making a workout DVD for years, the timing hadn’t been right until now. She also wanted to assure newcomers to the Bollywood dance world that the Doonya choreography was not meant to be intimidating.
“It’s definitely geared towards beginners, for people with dance experience, for everybody.”
You can watch the trailer for the DVD set below:
For more information about Doonya and their classes, visit doonya.com.