How To Dance Like Bollywood’s Helen

Helen Piya Tu Ab To Aaja

Helen, Queen of the Nautch Girls, makes Bollywood history with her wild dance moves in “Piya Tu Ab To Aaja” from Caravan (1971).

Helen’s moves are infamous. When Helen dances, it’s as if the screen lights on fire, as if someone exploded a splattering bottle of crazy juice all over the set. The most scandalous of vamps in classic Bollywood cinema, Helen was such a dance icon that Merchant Ivory Productions even made a documentary in 1973 on her monumental impact on Bollywood entitled, “Helen, Queen of the Nautch Girls.”

A mixture of sexy, hilarious, beautiful, and absolutely deranged, Helen’s moves are not intended for the faint-hearted. Below we discuss how to master some of her spiciest tricks from “Piya Tu Ab To Aaja” from Caravan (1971). Perhaps the greatest tip we can give you is simply to perform with blind, unabashed enthusiasm. Whatever Helen was, her moves were absolutely electric with raw passion and joie de vivre! So follow along and learn how to dance like Bollywood legend Helen!

Dance Move: The Money Grab

Let those wild 60s Bombay nightclub goers know exactly what you’re here for.  Make stocking up the bank an integral part of the item number and don’t be subtle about it!

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Appeal to audience members on the left, both hands open and ready.

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Rake it in with a violent, Helen-style hip thrust.

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The other side needs some love too. Twist it around and keep those palms up and open!

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SCORE! Reel it in to home position, and don’t forget that mischievously delightful smile.

Dance Move: The Jekyl-Hyde

Not sure which direction you want to groove? Do both at the same time! This move involves pushing the power forward then spastically pulling yourself in for a personal moment. Lather, rinse, repeat.

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Stay away! Don’t come near!

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Oh, wait, do come closer! Jerk the opposing arm in violently with come-hither modesty. Your audience has gotta stay on its toes to keep up with your routine.

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Just kidding! Go away! Snap back to your original aggressive stance to keep that audience guessing!

Dance Move: Heavy Breathing

Nothing says sexy quite like hypoxemia. This is Helen’s most deadly dance move. Demonstrate your desperate love with a little heavy breathing, and let the close-ups do the rest.

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Start by facing the camera directly with an open mouth, heave in and gasp like a drowning child.

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Now lurch forward, and keep that blood-oxygen low. Come closer and closer with a crazed look on your face, making sure everyone in the audience is really uncomfortable.

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It’s too overwhelming! Drop down with a final violent heave of your chest to let them all know just how much you’re willing to compromise your health for love.

Dance Move: The Switch-a-roo

Just when everyone’s slowly growing accustomed to the crack-cocaine of your dance routine, time to shift things around. Dress gets caught on a chair? No problem. You’ve got a glittery gold slip underneath. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the switch-a-roo is the risky dance move of a public wardrobe change.

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Oh yes, the first step of this move is undoubtedly alcohol. Lots and lots of alcohol.

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Dress is caught on a chair! Quick, act like this wasn’t planned, pretend to tug with all your might.

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No time to waste, rip that useless outer covering out of the way! The show must go on!

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What are the ODDS you’d have on a glittery gold slip underneath that crazy red dress? All bets are off now! Go big or go home!

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Show off your slip’s versatility with a partner! Arch your back, keep smiling, and congratulate yourself on a successful switch-a-roo.

And there have you 4 of Helen’s best dance moves in 1 easy-to-follow guide. Be a star at your next dance party, why wait for a sold-out cabaret? These moves are fabulous at family weddings, bar mitzvahs, high school graduations, and baby birthdays. I dare you to try them out at your next corporate Christmas party. For more in this series, check out our earlier post on how to wink like Rajesh Khanna!

-Mrs. 55

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6 thoughts on “How To Dance Like Bollywood’s Helen

  1. I thank you for the tips but if I try these things in public I may be asked to leave the next party rather than be thought of as the hit of the party. Helen stands alone in her ability to carry off such moves with such force off wit and wonder in our eyes. I never get tired of watching her. Secretly I would love to carry it off but I fear lesser mortals without her skills and costumes and Asha’s background vocals to guide them may not do such moves justice and merely look foolish. I bow to Helen instead.

    • Haha well, you need to be a bold woman to pull these moves off! Whether you’re thrown out of the party or made a star, at least you’ll be remembered with these moves 😉 The fact that we’ve only seen Helen pull these moves off perhaps reflects the fact that everyone else is too scared to try!

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