For four years, cultural dance classes have been connecting children and teenagers from Nepalese backgrounds that live in the St George and Sutherland area with their rich cultural roots and the wider community.
Each Sunday, around 20 young people, aged 4 to 17, meet at Advance Diversity Services (ADS) in Rockdale to be tutored by Nepalese dance teacher Anjeela BK in the folk and classical dances that have helped to shape and preserve Nepal’s diverse culture over millennia.
The hour-long dance classes are followed by an education session in which the young people learn about Nepalese values, norms, systems, culture, fables, history and traditions. They are also tutored in basic Nepali language skills.
‘It’s important for each new generation to relate to the rich multi-ethnic and multi-dimensional culture of Nepal, which is based on centuries-old traditions and customs,’ says Rishi Acharya, the Nepalese Community Worker for the Settlement and Community Services Program at ADS.
‘Nepal’s diversity has always been expressed through music, dance, folklore, language, and religion,’ he says. ‘So these classes are invaluable in helping young people to understand the land and social mores of their forebears, and to connect with them.’
Mr Acharya says the classes also go a long way in helping the young people to find their feet and feel comfortable in Australian society.
Class members have been asked to perform cultural dances at multicultural events put on by local councils, at migrant information days, during Harmony Day celebrations, and in other significant ceremonies, he says.
ADS’s Nepalese Reference Group and the children’s parents also play lead roles in managing the classes.
Participants agree that the project and its activities have had a significant and positive impact on their family lives as community members, parents, and grandparents. The classes also help them feel more settled in Australia and less isolated.
‘ADS is glad to be celebrating four years of this fantastic program,’ Mr Acharya said.