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My School Rocks! Dancing Disney's High School Musical in India

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Abstract:

High School Musical, the 2006 Disney Channel original movie, was a surprise hit in the United States, but its Bollywood-style format and sanitized depiction of American high school life contributed to its popularity in India as well. The Disney Channel, which entered the growing Indian market for children's television in 2004, has been a leader in developing strategies for localization. Many standard strategies are visible in the marketing of High School Musical, including dubbing content into local languages, creating content locally or drawing on local themes, and running local promotions and competitions. The My School Rocks dance competition, run in conjunction with the release of High School Musical, added creative and performance components to the equation that encouraged Indian kids to actively alter and interpret the film's musical numbers, thus making them relevant to their particular cultural experiences. Additionally, My School Rocks took advantage of the film's musical format to exploit similarities with the popular existing Bollywood industry, by both imitating popular performance practices inspired by Bollywood song-and-dance sequences and enlisting well-known Bollywood choreographers to serve as judges. The promotion involved schools, through the existing structure of interschool dance competitions, and local communities, through the voting that took place on the Disney India website. Through this Asia-specific competition, Disney encouraged children to take ownership of the film's content by creating and performing original dances to the songs, thus developing hybrid and bilingual choreographies that function as signifiers of class-based urban Indian cosmopolitanism.

Keywords: Bollywood; Disney India; High School Musical; My School Rocks; dance competition; popular culture

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1386/smt.3.3.253/1

Affiliations: Bowling Green State University.

Publication date: 2009-12-01

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  • Studies in Musical Theatre is a refereed journal which considers areas of live performance that use vocal and instrumental music in conjunction with theatrical performance as a principal part of their expressive language.
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