- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 25, 2014

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) - Wearing bright orange and maroon costumes, white ornaments in their hair and bells on their ankles, Kalapriya, an Indian dance group from Chicago, danced across the stage of Edgewood Primary School last Wednesday.

“Namaste,” they told the students, who repeated the Indian greeting, a sign of respect meaning “let the best in me meet the best in you.”

The dancers used their feet, hands and facial expressions to tell stories with their synchronous movements, and their audience of kindergarten through second-graders joined in, mimicking the dancers’ hand gestures as they sat cross-legged on the floor before the performers.

Bringing their palms together in front of their chests, the students and dancers made the symbol for “let there be peace.” When they lifted their hands into the air and twirled their index fingers above their heads, their motions represented the Earth.

Through the use of symbolic gestures, the three Kalapriya dancers told stories, including the tale of Ganesha, a boy with the head of an elephant, who threw one of his tusks at the moon. Pranita Jain, Kalapriya’s artistic director, told the young learners the story’s message was “we should not laugh at other people’s differences.”

The performance was part of Lotus Blossoms, a series of educational outreach events produced by Lotus Education and Arts Foundation, a nonprofit organization. Through the program, artists come to the Bloomington area to offer interactive performances at schools. This year, 15 schools in five area counties got a similar visit when Lotus Blossoms stopped by their school to share world culture, The Herald-Times reported (https://bit.ly/1cLjjo4 ).

“It is the Lotus mission to bring world music artists out into the schools,” said Ruth Boshkoff, a retired teacher and board member of the Lotus Education and Arts Foundation. “Many populations don’t ordinarily have this kind of offering. One experience like this can change the way children grow in their understanding of people and other countries.”

“We appreciate Lotus making this available to us,” said Brenda Whitaker, EPS principal. “This is something we could never do on our own. This brings the kids music they would otherwise never get to hear.”

Although the Indian music may not have been familiar to the little learners, it didn’t stop them from doing a boogie in place to the sounds of the drums, flute and sitar. The Kalapriya dancers even gave them a chance to show their moves when they invited students on stage to dance.


Information from: The Herald Times, https://www.heraldtimesonline.com

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