Bringing Bollywood glamour to Cross Gates as part of a project to tackle social isolation

The magic of Bollywood has brought culture to Cross Gates in a summer project that has been designed to improve health, fitness and wellbeing - as well as tackling social isolation.

By Emma Ryan
Tuesday, 14th September 2021, 4:45 am

Newly-launched workshops, led by D Dance Theatre CIC and supported by Leeds Inspired, have been taking place for women over 50 to give them chance to get together and experience

vibrant and fun-filled Indian dancing.

International artist, Chiragi Solanki, has been doing the choreography for the sessions, which as well as dancing, also focus on health and wellbeing, Indian culture and even an insight into how to enjoy a traditional Indian tea.

Bollywood dance teacher Chiragi Solanki and the class at Cross Gates.

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    D Dance founder and project co-ordinator, Ayesha Shamim, said the dance workshops were not just a fun introduction to Bollywood, but an important part of tackling social isolation

    and loneliness in the local community.

    She said: “These workshops give people the chance to learn some of the benefits of this beautiful free style dance, which involves agility, concentration, endurance and discipline. That is beneficial for their physical wellbeing, but also to help them to socialise and give them the confidence to make new friends and even get involved in performances too.

    “The main idea is to bring people together to learn and develop their skills in a relaxed and accessible environment then share their stories and experiences with one another. It’s so

    Teaching the moves at the weekly Bollywood dance sessions in Cross Gates.

    important that older people have these opportunities to get together, have some fun and avoid becoming isolated.”

    The workshops have been made possible thanks to funding from Leeds City Council’s 'Leeds Inspired' grants scheme, which supports hundreds of grass roots cultural projects and

    activities across the city's communities.

    Other activities being supported include a play day for learning disabled adults delivered by Animikii Theatre and a photographic exhibition of previously un-exhibited work by Peter Lavery, captured in 1968 which will celebrate the 90th anniversary of St Georges Crypt.

    Chiragi Solanki has brought Bollywood glamour to Cross Gates in a series of classes designed to get people active and socialising again.

    Coun Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s executive member for economy, culture and education, said: “Cultural events and activity of course play a crucial role in bringing our communities to life and showcasing their creativity, but they also play an important part in helping people connect and make friends.

    “That’s absolutely vital in fighting the terrible impact which loneliness and social isolation can have on people of all ages and in protecting their mental and physical health.”

    Based at Leeds Town Hall, Leeds Inspired forms part of the Council’s new Culture Programmes. Leeds Inspired has funded more than 600 projects across the city and worked with a range of audiences, artists, and communities.