BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — Northwest Arkansas is home to many cultures, including a strong Indian community. One group is using dance to promote traditional Indian customs during Diwali season.
Harshita Davuluri teaches Bollywood-style dance in Bentonville, and a Sunday class featured children wearing traditional clothing as they performed. A week after Diwali, a holiday that has a Hindu origin, the kids were still showing their spirit with a variety of moves.
“I was very grateful to be invited to the Bentonville Diwali Gala of 2019,” Davuluri said. “I got to spend it with all my students. It was very rewarding.”
One of the core elements of Diwali is a focus on the positive things in life, Davuluri said.
“It’s really to bring light into our lives to show that, moving forward, we want to celebrate light and happiness and joy,” Davuluri said.
Folks involved with Bollywood Dance Central said dancing is the perfect way to share that perspective.
“Dance has always brought people together no matter where you are in the world,” said Shawn Pretat, the owner of T.O.S.S. Academy, which hosts Bollywood Dance Central.
Pretat said diversity strengthens Northwest Arkansas. For that reason, he’s excited to support traditional Indian culture.
“By having this, it just makes it diverse,” Pretat said. “People think Arkansas, nothing out here but farms. This is bringing something to the community.”
Davuluri is proud of her Indian heritage and invites everyone, regardless of background or dancing ability, to celebrate Indian culture Bollywood style.
“This is something that…my parents have never danced a day in their life, and I always try to teach them and tell them, ‘hey, this is a lot easier than it looks,'” Davuluri said. “If you’re here to have fun, then it’s here for you, and you can pick it up.”