Deepti Patel

For Deepti Patel, BollyX dancing isn’t an exercise craze, it’s a calling.

Patel, a longtime volunteer for India House Houston, is using her love for dance and fitness to bring people together through the dance form, sharing its rhythms and movements that she says promote health and happiness.

“It’s so engaging that it provides exercise, of course, but it also helps participants’ mental outlook,” she said of the classes offered online via Zoom twice each week — for free — under the auspices of India House Houston in the Brays Oaks Management District.

The classes are well attended and devotees range in age from their 30s to their early 80s.

The music and choreography come from themes found in the Indian cinematic industry, known as “Bollywood.” The tunes feature upbeat rhythms that are infectious and inspire movement.

“What’s important is that people of all ages can easily follow along,” said Patel, an accountant in the oil and gas business in her day job. “They each can choose the level of intensity that best suits them. Either way, they get a bit of a workout, have fun, build confidence and embrace their own individuality.”

Patel’s personal interest in Indian dance began as she grew up with ethnic Indian parents in New Jersey. She learned classical Indian dance and performed in groups and as a soloist.

“It instilled a lifelong love of dance for me that I love to share,” she said.

At the start of each session, participants hear a minute or two of chat from Patel before the music starts and movements begin.
Depending on a dancer’s energy and fitness level, moving to the strong beat can have significant cardio benefits. Dancers can burn anywhere from 300 to 700 calories over a 45 to 50-minute session.

Birthday party for Dilip Desai.

Patel, who also teaches in-person classes for the Katy Independent School District community education program, said India House sessions began as an online activity for the community to help people stay active and engaged at home as the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

But has remained popular post-pandemic.

“I haven’t missed a class in three years,” Patel said, noting that she recently found another instructor – Jolly Dutta – to make sure a backup leader is always available.

For participant Dilip Desai, 82, a retired engineer who lives in Sugar Land, taking part is a treasured part of his week.

“I like the exercise but also the sense of community it provides,” he explained.

“For me, staying active is very important to both my physical and psychological health and well-being,” said Desai, also an avid table tennis player. “I danced at my 80th birthday. It helps keep me fit and feeling young.”

Paru McGuire, 75, another participant, said she, too, enjoys the fitness benefits and friendships.

“I love the fact you can dance from home. It’s also good in that it provides a sense of connection to the community. You care about the people you get to know.”

The India House BollyX classes are held Mondays from 11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. and Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. To take part go online to