The traditional dhol, wedding songs and impromptu dances at home once defined the typical sangeet, a key function in most big fat Indian weddings. Not any more. The celebrations have just gotten bigger and bolder with brides and grooms signing up for classes to train for a joint performance designed to dazzle.
Be it Bollywood masala or western salsa, young couples are going out of their way to put on their dancing shoes to add that special edge to the revelry.
Sometimes the bride can't dance, or the groom has two left feet; and then there are those families who are conservative and not in favour of their 'to-be bahus' shaking a leg on stage. But that's changing. And that's where dance instructors step in.
"Couples have preferences in terms of specific songs and often they want to depict their personal story through a dance performance," Atul Jindal, director, Big Dance Centre, said.
"Props and audio visuals are included in sangeet performances to give a spectacular look. Couples usually come to learn dance forms like salsa, freestyle and Bollywood that involve fun and partner work. In these dance forms, couples enjoy dancing with each other," he added.
Ace choreographer Shiamak Davar agreed there was an upswing in the number of people who come to his institute just to learn how to groove for their special day. And he is all for the trend.
"I have so many people who want to dance at their wedding and we encourage them to do so. They love our choreography and we encourage them. They get excited to learn anything new and interesting," Davar said.
Wedding choreographer Rahul Verma, who runs dance institute Bollywood Nach here, specialises in arranging special acts and training couples for weddings. Couples prefer dancing together rather than giving solo performances.
"Some time back, brides and grooms used to give solo performances, but now families have become quite broad-minded, frank, and couples prefer to present a joint act. To support the couples, dancers are also provided to work as fillers," Verma said.
"Sometimes we use fillers also. Dancers stand in the background with props and perform while the bride and groom dance in the centre," he added.
It costs quite a packet - ranging from anything over Rs 2,500 an hour to even packages that go up to Rs 100,000 for choreographing a complete act for the family.
"When there are family and friends, we charge Rs 100,000 for 15 days because they are not professionals at dance and want to put up a perfect performance, and enjoy it as well. For couples alone, who want private classes, we charge Rs 5,000 per hour," said Jindal.
People are more than willing to spend.
Swati Chaudhary, an animation designer by profession, and Sanjeet Chahal, who works as a relationship manager with a bank, are tying the knot on December 7. They have signed up for one such class, and feel it will also help them come closer to each other.
"We are very excited about our special day. Since our marriage is arranged, it was very important for us to know each other better. And what better than learning dance together and spending some quality time with each other," Chahal said.
"It has given us memorable moments," he added.
For Swati, dancing with her fiance has also helped her overcome her fear of dancing.
"I always feared dancing, but the idea of spending time with him convinced me to join the dance classes. Now I am enjoying each day and, on the other hand, our bond has strengthened," she said.
(Yashika Mathur can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)