Michaela Stone Cross
April 12, 2019
After a recent breakup, 21-year-old London dancer Pippa Hughes was eager for a change of scenery. “I always wanted to be a backup dancer but I wasn't that good,” she reflected. She knew a girl who was finishing a contract as a backup dancer in India. “Do you want to take my spot?” the girl asked.
A few months later, Hughes was on her way to Mumbai on a six-month contract with an agency called White Horse Entertainment. She had never seen a Bollywood movie, but would soon be in a position many would kill for — dancing behind Shah Rukh Khan.
You see them all the time: pale white women gyrating behind Bollywood stars. Sometimes they’re wearing Indian clothing, and sometimes they’re not wearing much at all. To a Westerner, it might look ridiculous to see a hundred white girls spring out of the ether to dance behind Kareena Kapoor. But these women have been used as exotic flavor for years, a kind of ornamentation to induct audiences into a world full of booze, money, and easy sex.