The First Community Project! “Mauja hi Mauja!”

MISHI-2My husband and I were looking for a community-based initiative to celebrate our daughter Mishi’s second birthday. I wanted to do a Bollywood dance project, and thanks to a conversation with Diane Norcross, an idea was born i.e. a Bollywood dance performance for “The Festival of Dancing Horses-2009″ (Thanks, Diane!)


At the time I had been volunteering for”In The Company of Horses” (ICOH). The Festival of Dancing Horses’ is an annual fundraiser hosted by ICOH for the EATHR of NJ scholarship fund.

With the love & support of MaryAnn, Shannon, and all the volunteers, Mishi celebrated her second birthday with, “In The Company of Horses” (ICOH) this year.As a gift to Mishi, I choreographed a dance number to Mishi’s favorite Bollywood song, “Mauja hi Mauja”, and dedicatedthe dance to the amazing student riders associated with ICOH’s therapeutic riding program and their loving parents, who motivate and inspire us every day with their spirit and accomplishments!

2To tie in Mishi’s birthday cake into the theme, I envisioned bright Bollywood colors (yellow, pink & orange), the ICOH logo (3 horses), and the song & dance motifs on the sides (dancing people + music notes + the words, ‘mauja hi ‘mauja’). A shout out to ‘Swedesboro Pastry Shop’ for making it happen! 🙂 And, thank you all for your warm birthday wishes for my little girl…

“Community Bollywood Dance Project”
My vision was to have about 50 individuals dance together for a common cause, and the term, “Community Bollywood Dance Project” was born. My recruitment efforts for the dance project started at the fundraiser planning meetings (where some of the staff, volunteers, and parents signed up for the dance), and continued at the coffee shop, wellness center, library, Facebook, etc. 🙂 The final list of dance participants included the staff + student riders & their parents + volunteers + horses of ICOH, and various individuals from our community, some of whom had no prior association with ICOH.

Yes, there were challenges 🙂
The first challenge was to manage the huge amount of space in the 150′ x 300′ sized arena, without any fancy stage set-design type of equipment. However, the bigger challenge was working through everybody’s schedules, given that we only had 2.5 weeks left before The Festival (with the Thanksgiving weekend in between). With the limited availability of the DREAM park during this time, we had a total of about 8 practice sessions, and on average each person made it to 3-4 practices.
That said, I’m impressed by everybody’s commitment and hard work which enabled us to go from Zero to Spectacular in a mere 2.5 weeks! 🙂 And to think that most of the dancers had never done Bollywood dancing before – ever! 🙂

About our dancers!
• total number of participants – 43; and 5 horses!
• MaryAnn and Shannon danced on horseback, from start to finish
• youngest dancer = 4 yrs old, and the eldest = 70
• 3 generations of a family danced together = Ms. Beverly, Danielle(Ms. Beverly’s daughter), Jane (Danielle’s niece)
• Hina (mom) participated with her 3 daughters Maya, Asha, and Raina
• Kera (mom) participated with her 2 daughters Loni, and Kyle
• 3 sisters were part of the group: Veronica, Rachel, and Ali
• Phoebe danced alongside her daughter MaryAnn
• friends brought friends, who brought their friends! – Swati > Rita > Deandra, Danielle(with Ms. Beverly and Jane)! ; Mimi with Rachel, Veronica, and Ali
• None of the participants are professional dancers – just a fun group of individuals, who danced together for a common cause!

*Our costume: logo-T’s for all dancers, pair of blue jeans, and silver accessories & bindis. And dancing in the sand was fun! 🙂

The experience:
I feel blessed to have been a part of the fundraising efforts for such a life-altering cause (EATHR of NJ) – a heartfelt THANKS! I hope all of you who participated in the “Community Bollywood Dance Project” had as much fun dancing with me, as I had fun dancing with you! It’s been a ton of fun or should we say, ‘mauja hi mauja!’ 🙂

And a salute to all of you at ICOH – staff, volunteers, and horses – you continue to make a difference in so many lives…


List of participants in the “Community Bollywood Dance Project”:
• On the ground (since the beginning of the dance):Phoebe, Rita, Veronica, Deandra, Lola, Jane, Rachel, Danielle, Diane, Savalla, Beverly, Emily, Kelly, Ali, Kera, Mimi, Swati
• On horseback: MaryAnn, Shannon
• Flower girls: Raina, Asha, Kyle, Loni
• Students & Parents: Michelle & TJ, Carol & Becky, Tom & Tommy (with Ana), John & his dad, Annamarie & Nicky, Hina & Maya, Lindsay, Robert, Patrick (with Linda)
• Special appearance: 3 horses lead by Chris and her team of 2


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