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Downtown Newhall lessons get Bollywood ending

Series teaches residents music, dance

Posted: August 23, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 23, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Children participate in an activity led by Blue13 Artistic and Executive Director Achinta S. McDaniel, right, at the Santa Clarita Community Center in Newhall on Thursday.

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With arms stretched in the air, wrists crossed and hands wide open, more than 50 kids and community members bounced and laughed to Bollywood beats Thursday for the last of eight summer dance and music lessons in Newhall.

Five women of the Blue13 Dance Company lead the Bollywood J.A.M. session, their bright saris jingling with the energetic sounds of Bollywood music.

The summer Jazzed and Motivated classes featured different styles and cultures of dance, including bluegrass, drumming, Brazilian, hip-hop, salsa, Bollywood, swing and Samoan.

“We bring in different teachers who represent different cultures and art forms,” said Steve Lozier, marketing coordinator for the Ford Theatre Foundation. “The goal is for J.A.M. to be open for anybody.”

J.A.M. has been hosted by the Ford Theatre Foundation in Los Angeles for the last four years, but a $150,000 grant from Metabolic Studio allowed the nonprofit to bring the free program to five other communities in the county this summer, including Newhall’s Thursday dance sessions in the middle of Main Street.

J.A.M. gets 20 to 300 dancers moving weekly, depending on the weather and the style of dance, said Lozier.

In order to get out of the heat, the Santa Clarita Community Center hosted the Bollywood session, allowing more than 50 children from the center’s after-school member program to sway, laugh and shake.

“It’s the first time they’ve ever seen this,” said Community Center Supervisor Julie Calderon of the Bollywood dance lessons.

Bollywood, originating in Mumbai, describes the film industry in India and the style of dance. It’s based on classical Indian dance but has evolved with music and pop culture, said Blue13 Artistic and Executive Director Achinta S. McDaniel.

The city and the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center partnered with Ford Theatres to spread dance across the county.

“I think it’s important to bring J.A.M. sessions to the community because it lets the community know art isn’t something they just have to watch,” Lozier said. “Not everyone has a chance to take a dance class. This is a way for us to provide that to them free of cost.”

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