Alexa Robertson, who has trained in Bollywood dance, was a witness to the unfortunate terror attack of 2008, when she was near the historic Leopold Café in South Mumbai’s Colaba area. The Cafe, which has been a great attraction to both locals as well as visitors, was one of the first places to be targeted during the city-wide terrorist strikes on November 26, 2008, when 10 people were killed and several others seriously injured.
“I was with a group of Western dancers. We managed to get back to the apartment. It was very scary, we had no electricity and no way to contact anyone for help. The Indian neighbours brought us food and protected us. I will forever be thankful to them. My mum flew out once the flight ban had been lifted,” says Alexa.
Alexa is the great great granddaughter of German botanist and landscape designer Gustav Herman Krumbiegel, the man behind Bangalore’s Lal Bagh. CSP ran a story on him in September last year recounting his wonderful contribution to making Bangalore the original Garden City -https://www.softpowermag.com/4-gustav-herman-krumbiegel-the-man-who-made-bangalore-bloom/
Alexa is a paramedic nurse in London working night shifts helping provide emergency care to patients. Because of her relationship to Krumbiegel, she says she feels “a very deep connection with India” and cannot wait until she gets the chance to come back.
She has always loved dancing and her grandmother Jean, Krumbiegel’s oldest granddaughter would tell her stories of “beautiful Indian dancers with their dresses and makeup”.
She first learnt Bharatanatyam at the BRIT school and she has also trained in ballet, modern contemporary, jazz and tap dance. “The aspect of Indian dancing that I love is that every move has a story, has a meaning, I love the fact that it tells stories through movement,” says Alexa.
She retired from dancing when she decided to have children and says that she’s not into active dancing now. “But I do know there are many UK Bollywood classes available. As the UK is multi-cultural most dance studios offer a wide range of dance classes. I believe that the social aspect of joining in with these classes are the most important,” she says.
Alexa had auditioned for a dance company in the UK to go to India. “The Octopus dance company would send out your CV and photo and you would be picked if successful. My most memorable job was Nach Baliye 4 with Karishma Kapoor. She is a lovely lady, very kind and very talented. I also did an advert with Kareena Kapoor promoting desi beats. I got to dress up like a princess for day.”
Nach Baliye 4 - https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x3msoja
The first movie she danced in was Billu Barber. “I was amazed by how big the set was and loved the food at lunch time. Both Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone were very approachable and kind.”
Her mother, Alyia Phelps-Gardin, the great granddaughter of Krumbiegel –was in Bangalore and Mysore recently to immerse her grandmother’s ashes at Srirangapatna, a place the family originally from Germany calls home.
(Alexa is first from left in featured image)