It was a pleasure to teach Indian Dance to the 6th graders at White Hill Middle School. Two of the classes learned Bhangra (a harvest dance from Punjab, India) while two classes learned Bollywood (a popular mix of dance forms from the mainstream Indian film industry). They were able to compare and contrast traditional and contemporary Indian dance forms, and after a presentation featuring videos and maps, the students were introduced to the huge diversity of dance forms in India.
From the first day, the students were enthusiastic and focused. Even the most reserved dancers were eventually drawn to the upbeat music and movement of Indian dance, and in the end all the students worked together to put on great performances.
Bhangra and Bollywood are very effective forms for teaching youth because both are upbeat and joyous dances. The music is mixed with familiar contemporary beats which young folks recognize, making it easier for them to enter into the world of Indian dance, having established a feeling of comfort with the music. The students all performed for parents, teachers and administrators at the end of the residency.
I applaud schools like White Hill that are taking the initiative to teach their students to be functional and compassionate members of our global society.