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Bollywood Dancing for Wyre Forest u3a

  • 12 December 2023

Julia from Wyre Forest u3a talks about a recent multicultural u3a event, where members broke out into Bollywood dancing.

A group of women in traditional Indian dress - a bright blue skirt with a pink top and pink sari - and two men. They are raising their arms and smiling. At the front is a woman wearing a traditional yellow Indian sari and holding a bouquet of flowers.

 How did members of Wyre Forest u3a in Worcestershire end up in flamboyant costumes performing three Bollywood dances at our Monthly Meeting during ‘u3a Week?’

Well, it started with some serious consideration during our Inclusion Forum, of how we could break through any barriers to local people becoming members. We considered gender, disability/impairment, poverty, sexual orientation, digital inclusion and of course ethnicity.

One of our decisions was to share an appreciation of other cultures with our membership, so we gradually worked up a plan for a Multicultural Event.

We highlighted two cultures; Polish, (as we have a significant number of people who came over post-war and when we were in the EU) and Indian, because the subcontinent offered a huge source of material to explore.

Having tapped the resources within our Interest Groups, (Art, Poetry, Reading, Performance and Economics) we worked with some of our members who are of Indian and Polish heritage.

So how could we include dance as a manifestation of culture?

Well, it just had to be Bollywood; but how to make it authentic and not a pastiche?

Our solution was to work with Rohini Gogna, the lead dance instructor from ‘Aaja Nachle Let’s Dance,’ a Bollywood dance company run by Kavita Gogna in the neighbouring Black Country.

Rohini selected some wonderful music, choreographed three dances to suit our abilities and, with warm encouragement, taught fourteen of us the moves, expressions and gestures of three dances; the first was a gentle love song, the second, a drumming dance and the last a very lively Bhangra party dance, which really set the pulse racing and ended with a triumphant yelp of joy.

The dances were a huge success at the Event at our Monthly Meeting; some members were so caught up in the fun of the moment that they got up and joined in the encore, much to the surprise of their partners and friends.

As for our dance troupe, we enjoyed it so much that we have just held a Bollywood Reunion shared lunch, where we watched the videos of the event and performed the dances all over again.

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