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Kalpita Desai prepares for her 2011 IIFA Awards Performance in North Vancouver, Thursday, June 16, 2011. (Rafal Gerszak/Rafal Gerszak for The Globe and Mail)
Kalpita Desai prepares for her 2011 IIFA Awards Performance in North Vancouver, Thursday, June 16, 2011. (Rafal Gerszak/Rafal Gerszak for The Globe and Mail)

Dancer Kalpita Desai gets into the Bollywood groove Add to ...

Boogying to Hindi pop, Kalpita Desai topped 150 video entries as the best female dancer of the CIBC IIFA Bollywood Moves dance contest. Those moves earned Ms. Desai, a 28-year-old B.C. Hydro claims co-ordinator, a spot in the live finale at the annual International Indian Film Academy awards June 25 in Toronto. The show is expected to draw a television audience of 700 million viewers.

My goal

"To be the best dancer and performer I can be. To perform at my best I need to have great stamina and strength, but keep my flexibility if I want to showcase my talent worldwide and pursue my Bollywood dream."

My workout

"I alternate workouts. One day, I do upper body and core workouts in the gym in a few sets of 15 reps, and then increase pounds or reps every week. I then stretch for 10 minutes.

"The next day I take Shiamak Davar's Bollywood classes, which combine dance with a yoga workout at a studio in Vancouver.

"I've been dancing for eight years. I danced with Shiamak in Bombay, where I was born. Then I emigrated to Canada in 2006 and started dancing at his studio. I'll be dancing with his troupe in the finale at the awards.

"With Bollywood dancing, you have to make eye contact with the audience, give lots of energy, and it's important that you lip-synch the song - your facial expressions and eye contact have to be in line. You can't be thinking one thing and your body doing something else while lip-synching."

My lifestyle

"I cook meals myself so that I use less oil and salt. For breakfast, I have an omelette, bread and juice. For lunch I eat rice and lentil curry. Sometimes I eat spinach and paneer, and fruits. Dinner is a salad with lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, celery, onions and Italian dressing, and with that I have one roti with mixed vegetables. I don't drink pop and I don't eat past 7 p.m."

My motivation

"My motto is 'Have feet, will dance' and 'Be yourself no matter what they say.' I take these to heart and whether I'm dancing, at work or in the community, these words guide and inspire me to do my best."

My anthem

" Sheila Ki Jawani by Sunidhi Chauhan."

My challenge

"To go beyond my comfort level in dance and experience with the full magic of expression that dance offers. I used to be a very shy person when I was younger. Dance helped me find the confidence to strive for my dreams, not just in performing, but in all aspects of my life."


Lorne Goldenberg, director of conditioning at Athletic Conditioning Centre in Ottawa, offers his advice.

Eat more protein, dance with power

"Kalpita is barely getting 40 grams of protein a day. I am estimating she would need 75 to 100 grams. Good options to increase protein include drinking a post-workout protein shake, cooking quinoa over rice and adding chicken or tuna to her salads," Mr. Goldenberg says.

Eating more protein will increase Ms. Desai's energy levels to train and dance at a higher intensity.

Boogie better without getting bulky

Mr. Goldenberg believes that by neglecting her legs, Ms. Desai is missing out on the opportunity to support the extreme balance and explosive moves she has to do in her routines.

"Kalpita can try whole-body strength routines of five to eight exercises in three to four sets of each, in a superset routine alternating upper- and lower-body exercises. Overhead squats, front position lateral squats, dumbbell angle lunges, and Romanian deadlifts performed in an eight-to-10-rep range to will focus on her strength. Kalpita's endurance will come from the specificity and intensity of her classes. These are functional exercises that will contribute to her performance, and with some good technique coaching she will excel and feel a huge improvement," he says.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

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