Starting from a garage to now multiple studios around Auckland, dance group Aaja Nachle has come a long way in making its mark as one of the most popular Bollywood dance schools in New Zealand. 

Aaja Nachle was started as a school project back in 2010 by Jignal Bhagvandas under Arogya Mantra and has since only grown in numbers and popularity having now given several hundred performances at scores of the event in and around the country. 

Dance event in 2010

Aaja Nachle comes under the parent non-profit company called ‘Arogya Mantra’ that conducts free workshops for the elderly in the South Asian community. 

The first few months of Arogya Mantra was more about creating awareness, yoga and fitness and which has now become a fully-fledged organisation offering free fitness classes for the senior citizens of the community. 

Auckland Diwali 2010

Under Arogya Mantra, Aaja Nachle started booming with enrolments for dance classes with sign-ups from children of the age of five-plus to adults. The school offers classical, contemporary, Bollywood, hip-hop, classical fusion (Bharatanatyam and Kathak) performances amongst a few others. 

Aaja Nachle is also adding Bhangra, the Punjabi form of dance for men and women to its curriculum from January 2021. 

At Auckland Diwali 2010

Over the last one decade, Aaja Nachle has achieved many milestones, from performing TEDx Auckland in 2018, What NOW programme on TVNZ, to featuring in a documentary on TV3 about Arogya Mantra and people involved in the project. 

Aaja Nachle has performed at every Auckland Diwali Festivals by ATEED (now Auckland Unlimited) and has also performed at Wellington Diwali, Waitakere Diwali, several dance festivals and competitions. 

At Waitakere Diwali 2011

Speaking about the exponential growth of the dance school, Jaspal Singh, Senior Manager from Aaja Nachle said, “I believe our desire help migrant community in New Zealand and to connect people to their culture through dance is a key to our growth. 

“The passion that flows through all the teachers and students is a contagious energy that inspires and empowers all members of the Aaja Nachle family to thrive and succeed while having a great time and building new friendships along the way.

At Santa Parade in Auckland CBD in 2014

There are 120 students, and 12 teachers at three studios, Mt Roskill Glenfield and Papatoetoe, the age group of those range from three years old to adults. 

The school has 3-7-year-olds attending BollyBeginners classes, 8-10-year-olds in BollyJunior classes, 11- 16-year-olds Intermediate Classes, 16+ in Advanced courses. The 16+ age group of students are the ones who want to grow even more in dance and challenge themselves at a professional level. 

2016 Junior Students of Aaja Nachle

“Our team prides itself on developing well rounded, hardworking, respectful dancers that are better prepared for any aspect of their lives by developing confidence, an understanding of their unique culture, work ethic and respect for themselves and their community,” Jaspal added. 

On an average, Aaja Nachle dance school groups perform 3-4 times in a term of 8-10 weeks; they are hired to perform at private events, weddings, birthdays, which is at 3-5 such events in a month etc. 

At Auckland Malayali Show 2017

During two days of Auckland Diwali events, Aaja Nachle gives 12-15 street, and stage performances, 8-10 different class groups participate in competitions, and its teachers would also conduct dance workshops for the street crowd at the event. 

“This year, due to COVID, street and stage performances and the competition did not happen on a full scale. 

At TEDx Auckland 2020

“However, Aaja Nachle students did manage put a great show as five of our best classes took part in Auckland Diwali competition and one of the class, Papatoetoe Junior, was announced winner under the Rising Start category,” Jaspal said. 

Aaja Nachle’s dancers and teachers come from different walks of life, such as doctors, medical professionals, finance background, sales, engineers, etc.  

Auckland Diwali 2019

“We feel proud to say that we have students and teachers from different ethnic backgrounds such as Europeans, Kiwis, South Africa, South East Asian countries and more,” Jaspal added.

Having grown ten years now, Aaja Nachle now aims to participate in international dance competition starting with Australia’s Got Talent.

Papakura Diwali 2020 Workshop

Speaking with the Indian Weekender, current chairperson of Arogya Mantra Nagaveena Rama said the school offers New Zealand born Indian descent children an opportunity to dance and connect to their culture, with not just Bollywood dance but also different forms of dance that exhibit the rich heritage and culture of India.