Auckland’s newest festival brings the chance to celebrate the music, dance, art, stories and food that make our city one of the world’s most vibrant and diverse.
We talk to a few of the stars of the Auckland Council’s World of Cultures festival, from 18 March to 3 April, about what to expect.
Learning something new
You can hear the joy in Ella Kumar’s voice when she talks about Bollywood dance, bopping to Hindi music with moves that have gone global thanks to the thriving Indian film industry. When Ella, an aerobics instructor, started fielding more and more calls to teach Bollywood dance she took this up and has never stopped.
She’s seen Aucklanders of all ages join her Bollywood dance fitness classes. The routines here are different from classical Indian dance, which sees participants learning precise movements that can be combined with specific gestures and facial expressions to tell stories.
“Bollywood dance is just dance and go for it," she says. “It takes you over and makes you want to move, so you can do a 40–50 minute class and not realise how long you’ve been moving for. That makes it good for health, well-being and endurance.
“It brings people together. Dance doesn’t care what culture you’re from, so it brings people together because we love to move.”
Like Ella, award-winning belly dancer Candice Frankland can’t imagine being without the artform that has been part of her life since she was a teenager. That’s when she first saw belly dancing performed at a local restaurant and was captivated by the dancer’s elegance, graceful movements and how she used dance to tell a story.
Candice, a former business analyst, is a full-time belly dancer and teacher who says the Middle Eastern dance is great for well-being and bringing people from all walks of life together. She recently had an 85-year-old enrol in classes at her Phoenix Belly Dance venture.
“I loved it from the very first class I went to,” says Candice. “It’s a great way to get out of your head and into your body because when you’re moving like this, you don’t have a chance to think about anything else that is going on in life. It’s meditative – and it’s exercise.”
Candice also stresses that it’s a dance open to people of all shapes and sizes, saying promoting body positivity is important to her.
Ella and Candice are thrilled to be part of World of Cultures, which celebrates Tāmaki Makaurau’s diversity by inviting us all to join in activities like the Bollywood and belly dancing classes that run throughout the 10-day festival.
Both are running classes in neighbourhood parks and beaches and welcome anyone who’s curious about giving Bollywood or belly dancing a go. Even though they’re outside, you’ll need a vaccine pass to take part and because each class is limited to 100, you’ll need to register.
You’ll find more information about dates, times and locations at worldofcultures.co.nz