Week­end fes­ti­val of cul­ture and per­form­ers

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Janie Smith

Bright colours, ex­otic mu­sic and de­li­cious food will trans­form the Viaduct Har­bour this week­end for the Di­wali Fes­ti­val of Lights.

Dance teacher and chore­og­ra­pher Nee­l­ima Kaushal and her stu­dents have spent weeks pre­par­ing for the event.

Ms Kaushal holds com­mu­nity dance lessons in Pa­p­a­toe­toe, Mt Roskill and New Lynn where stu­dents learn Bol­ly­wood dance and the north­ern In­dian Kathak style.

“It’s an art that I hope will be con­tin­ued and not die out. It’s my gift to the next gen­er­a­tion of kids and I hope they will pass it on,” she says.

The Di­wali fes­ti­val is the ideal op­por­tu­nity to show­case their tal­ent and cul­tural back­grounds, she says.

“We look for­ward to it ev­ery year.”

Ms Kaushal has been in­volved with the Auck­land fes­ti­val since it started five years ago.

She and her stu­dents won the first Bol­ly­wood danc­ing com­pe­ti­tion and have com­peted ev­ery year since.

They also take part in the fash­ion show and other dance cat­e­gories.

“We do all sorts of cul­tural per­for­mances all year. On av­er­age it’s at least two per­for­mances a month.”

While Bol­ly­wood dance is an eas­ier style to learn, Kathak is more skill based and Ms Kaushal says it takes about seven years of train­ing to mas­ter.

“The tempo is faster than the other styles and the cos­tume is quite dif­fer­ent.”

She trav­els to In­dia ev­ery year to buy tra­di­tional silk cos­tumes.

Ms Kaushal, who is also a full­time teacher at Hay Park School, has been teach­ing dance for about 20 years.

“I’m very pas­sion­ate about it. It’s a good form of ex­pres­sion of cre­ativ­ity.”

She and a group of her Bol­ly­wood dance stu­dents are head­ing to Syd­ney at the end of the year to take part in a dance com­pe­ti­tion for an In­dian tele­vi­sion pro­gramme.

Arts, cul­ture and recre­ation com­mit­tee chair­man Greg Moyle says it’s the first time the fes­ti­val has been held at the Viaduct and he is looking for­ward to the fes­tiv­i­ties.

“I’m not sure if I’ll take part in the Bol­ly­wood danc­ing, but I’m in­ter­ested to watch it.”

He says the fes­ti­val is one of the events that sets Auck­land apart from the rest of the coun­try and cel­e­brates the city’s di­ver­sity.

Di­wali will be held to­mor­row and Sun­day from noon to 10pm.

En­try is free.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Vi­brant fes­ti­val: Dance teacher Nee­l­ima Kaushal gets ready to per­form at the Di­wali fes­ti­val.

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