Next month, the unofficial summer kickoff begins with the 2019 Living Traditions Festival; May 17 through May 19 at Library Square. It’s the week before Memorial Day, where the weather is nice and the weekend is dedicated to three days of multicultural events and activities on Library Square in the heart of Downtown Salt Lake City.
This year, there are several changes and additions to the event including all-new performers and food vendors too. One of the groups we’re extremely proud to present for the first time ever is Sonali Loomba’s Bollywood Dance Company.
The Sonali Loomba dance group performed during the Mondays in the Park event in 2018, alongside other Living Traditions Festival veterans. Since forming the company several years ago, Sonali Loomba’s dance group has performed at most major state colleges, in schools, and also during many area Holi Festival of Colors events, including the big celebration at the Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork. Sonali and her dancers will perform at the Salt Lake City Library amphitheater stage during the first night of the festival from 6:15 to 7:00 p.m.
“In addition to me, our other choreographer is Sujanya Subrmanian, someone I met here in Utah. We were able to form this dance company together. Most of our students are from Utah or came from somewhere else and now live in the state. Some [students] may have been first introduced to more traditional Indian music and instrumentation,” said Loomba. “We have more than one group so some people like the Bollywood style and others start out with folk dance.”
For many years, the Living Traditions Festival has featured Indian performers and cuisine. The diverse representation and offerings from India continues to flourish and grow, and this year is no exception. Having moved to Utah from India about three years ago, Sonali Loomba has made it her mission to educate and teach others about traditional Indian dance as well as the fun and energy that comes from all things Bollywood.
Unlike many traditional dances and customs that date back several centuries or more, Bollywood is a relatively newer art form that gained popularity after the golden age Hollywood musicals. While Bollywood origins begin a little more than a century ago, a resurgence and newer style helped define Bollywood, which saw an increase in popularity in the 1990s. Formerly known as Hindi Cinema or Bombay Cinema, the industry is a large part of India’s national identity.
“We stay very busy with the classes and performing throughout the year. In fact, right now we are getting ready for a free event at the Regent Street Black Box [May 4, 2019] where we will do a night of Kathak and Indian Classical music.”
But perhaps the most exciting parts of Sonali’s performances are the interactions with the crowd, sharing the enthusiasm of dance with people from all different backgrounds. “I like to talk and dance with the audience. So during an hour or 45-minute set, I spend maybe 15 minutes performing and the rest of the time is interacting and dancing.”
So if you’ve ever wanted to learn the fascinating history of Bollywood style and have fun while doing it, make sure to catch Sonali Loomba on Friday night, May 17 at 6:15 p.m. In the meantime, to learn more about Bollywood dance and other upcoming performances from the Bollywood Dance Company of Salt Lake City, visit the group’s Facebook Events page for an upcoming schedule.