The recently concluded National Library Week (Apr 7 – 13, 2019) had me reflecting on how libraries have allowed me to be in service of diverse groups of people right in their own neighborhoods. Through our CBDP Interactive Programs hosted at various libraries in the NJ-PA-DE tristate area I have met, and danced with, individuals of all ages and from diverse socio-economic and cultural backgrounds.
Traditionally, libraries have focused on providing access to a wealth of knowledge and resources to a defined community. Today, libraries are emerging as a gathering space in the hearts of our neighborhoods, allowing artists like me to bring in diverse programing to patrons.
My mission is to bring joy and create community through Bollywood dancing. I created Community Bollywood Dance Project (CBDP) in 2009; to bring light and joy through the power of connection, dance, and storytelling.
Be it an introduction to Indian culture and Bollywood dancing, a taste of the familiar after relocating from their home base, or simply about moving your bodies and expressing yourself … we have created memories together!
I once had 2 moms (in their 40’s) tell me that they had danced for the first time in their lives during our interactive dance program! My own mom, while visiting from India, danced at a library event in PA after 4 decades in her life!
Parents and grandparents dance alongside their younger generations, and individuals often dress up in their Indian attire to celebrate the festive spirit of our Bollywood dance programs! Moving our bodies to Bollywood dance music, relaxing, connecting with ourselves, and with others…
Dancing in front of others, and often with complete strangers, can be daunting. So when I see participants’ reluctance and/or hesitation turn into a fun and joyful experience for them, and for the group as a whole, it means I am living my mission.
Carrie had these kind words to eloquently describe the program experience for her library patrons:
“I love the communal aspect of this program. It created an open and welcoming environment and I saw us building bonds between essentially strangers! … I just felt the aura of joy within the room the whole time! The program is so uplifting and it invites people to come out of their shell. It invites people to express themselves physically, rather than being spoken to i.e. presented to. I think libraries are the best place for building a sense of community – we all look different, come from different cultures, but we are all having fun together and learning together, and this program helped us do just that!”
– Carrie Sturgill (Head of Youth Services, Radnor Memorial Library – PA)
Libraries truly rock! Check out our video montage below. I am grateful to all of you who have chosen to #DanceWithCbdp by either hosting or participating in one of our Bollywood dance assembly programs!
#BringingPeopleTogether #Joy #Diversity #CelebrateLife #ExpressYourself #TrySomethingNew #MakingMemories #BollywoodDancing