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Diving Deeper through Dance
By Jeremiah, YES Abroad 2019-2020, Malaysia
In Malaysia, there is a great deal of diversity with many people of Malay, Chinese, and Indian heritages. I was thankful to participate in the various holidays associated with each of these rich cultures.
Recently, I was involved in my host school’s Pongal celebration, an important holiday in Indian culture celebrating the harvest festival. Some members of my school’s Tamil Society asked me one day after school in the canteen and asked if I would be interested in dancing for the event. Of course, I knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I said, “yes!”
I had some experience with traditional Malay dance, but it was my first time trying a traditional Indian dance. At first, it was challenging and frustrating. I remember thinking during the first practice, “I will never get these steps down.” With less than two weeks to perfect the dance, I started to doubt my abilities. However, after my classmates helped me fix the mistakes I was making, I quickly started to enjoy the challenges that came with the dance. Indian dance incorporates many subtle hand gestures and body movements, so I learned that I really needed to pay attention to successfully execute them.
Finally, it came time to perform. All my classmates and teachers gathered around the stage in anticipation of the performance. I was so nervous! In the end, everything turned out well and I know I won’t ever forget the time I learned how to dance a traditional Indian dance. Now, I appreciate the difficulties of learning a new skill, and in the process, made some new friends. Dance has been one way that I have stepped outside my comfort zone, and I recommend that you give it a try!