In a series of interviews, David Cameron refused to restore funding for school sport partnerships, which linked state pupils with professional coaches, saying schools were already benefiting from a £1 billion cash injection over four years.
Defending the decision to scrap the targets, he said, “I see it with my own children ... because you know, the two hours that is laid down is often met through sort of Indian dancing classes. Now, I’ve got nothing against Indian dancing classes but that’s not really sport.”
However, his comment has not been well received and several are angry. Jennie Jethwani, managing director and co-founder of Bollywood Dance London, which runs classes from adults and children, said it was popular among both Asian and non-Asian pupils in schools.
Many had been inspired by Jai Ho, a choreographed sequence at the end of Slumdog Millionaire, the hit film directed by the Olympics opening ceremony mastermind Danny Boyle. Jethwani said that “if any dance is considered a sport” then Bollywood dance should be, and that it was “more energetic, more cardio” than others.
“It can be just as energetic as exercise,” she said. “I think people are just a bit ignorant about it. They don’t think they are going to break a sweat. “They just see people moving their heads and hands and assume that’s it.”
Nileeka Gunawardene, artistic director of Bollywood Dance London, said, “I think the problem with Cameron’s comments are that they could be construed as overlooking the physical health benefits of Bollywood Dance. He used Indian Dance as an example, but I think, more generally, he was referring to dance as a whole not being seen as a sport. This is where we tend to disagree.”
She added, “If schools are using dance, be it Bollywood or otherwise, as a way to meet their targets, then we don’t see this as an issue. Dance is a fantastic way of keeping fit and getting a full cardiovascular workout — I am sure that if he tried one of our BhangraFit classes he would see the benefits too.”
350-500 The number of calories a person can burn in an hour dancing the Bhangra