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A Celebration Of Life, Bollywood Style

Supporting our scholars and mentors as they build their relationships is a very important part of what we do at PEAK, and we know they love to get together for fun. So just before the holidays we held a Bollywood event to explore movement, get our dance on and enjoy some delicious food together!

Led by an instructor from the Chicago dance company Bollywood Groove, mentors and scholars were introduced to Indian traditional dancing during the session and learned how the dance moves reflect everyday activities. The event was held at Holy Trinity.

Our seniors really got into the spirit, and were a spectacular source of enthusiasm that quickly fired up the other classes and the mentors. Bounding right to the front of the room, the seniors “took it totally upon themselves to set the tone for the entire event,” said Katherine Rush, PEAK’s executive director. “They just danced their hearts out.”

The students were particularly interested to learn the cultural meaning behind the traditional dance movements; each one is based on a real-life movement found in nature or that people made while performing everyday chores in a time before automation and industrialization. The dance teacher explained that many of the exaggerated movements - such as “pulling a rope” or “fetching water” - not only reflected people’s environments but allowed them to celebrate being alive, discovering and illustrating joy in their repetitive and necessary movements. The detailed explanations entranced the students.

That deeper meaning was a also a fitting and inspiring message for the participants - many of us have struggled at some point during the COVID-19 pandemic, whether with the virus itself or the toll it has taken on our world, and a happy gathering that highlighted a celebration of life boosted everyone’s mood.

“It was really perfect for all of us to come together at a time when we haven’t been able to do that very much, and be joyful in just being and moving together,” Rush said.

After dancing for more than an hour, the group got to enjoy some delicious traditional food, which had been packaged individually to comply with COVID-19 safety protocols. Participants enjoyed Bombay wraps, samosas and chutneys - which were a completely new food experience for some of the students.

PEAK scholars often talk about traveling and their hopes to explore new places, and one freshman scholar suggested PEAK could make the Bollywood event format a regular event for mentors and scholars to explore different cultures - which is what we’re going to do! He suggested we start by exploring African-American traditional dance and food…which we’re looking forward to doing at an upcoming event. Stay tuned!

Great job Program Manager Minha Osorio for planning a very welcome day of togetherness, great food and fun with PEAK!


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