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First World Dance Party Eastside brings together different cultures, set for Saturday at Redmond schoolhouse

Participants learn a new dance at a previous World Dance Party (WDP) event in Seattle. The first WDP Eastside event will be on Saturday at the Old Redmond Schoolhouse Community Center. - Courtesy of WDP Facebook
Participants learn a new dance at a previous World Dance Party (WDP) event in Seattle. The first WDP Eastside event will be on Saturday at the Old Redmond Schoolhouse Community Center.
— image credit: Courtesy of WDP Facebook

This weekend, members of the Redmond and greater Eastside communities will come together to get their collective groove on at the inaugural World Dance Party (WDP) Eastside.

Sammamish resident Gee Randhawa, a volunteer member of the WDP Eastside planning committee, said there is a lot of diversity on the Eastside — with populations representing various parts of the world including Europe, South America, Asia and more — and the goal of WDP Eastside is to integrate those different cultures and encourage inclusion in the community through dance.

“Music (and dance) is a fantastic way (to bring people together),” she said.

At Saturday’s event, attendees will have the opportunity to learn different cultural dances — salsa, Bollywood and flamenco — taught by volunteer instructors from throughout the Eastside. In addition, Bonnie Wang from Seattle will be teaching Zumba and Kathy Hokulani of Shoreline will be teaching hula. Each dance lesson will last 20 minutes. In addition to the dancing, attendees are asked to bring a potluck dish to share at this free event. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/wdpeastside.

The idea for WDP Eastside, which will be from 6:30-9 p.m. at the Old Redmond Schoolhouse Community Center, 16600 N.E. 80th St., came from WDP events that have been held in Seattle in the last few years.

CULTURAL CONNECTIONS

According to the WDP Eastside Facebook page, those WDP events in Seattle came about after community members expressed concerns regarding the lack of connections between elders and young people, and between neighbors of different ethnicities.

The City of Redmond was dealing with similar issues.

Steve Hitch, another planning committee member who also works for the city, said internally, they have been looking at ways to be more culturally inclusive to better serve its citizens. He said they discovered WDP after another city staff member attended an event in Seattle and thought it would be great to bring to the Eastside.

Tien Nguyen, a Redmond resident who is also on the WDP Eastside planning committee, also attended a Seattle event and said while she was there, she really felt welcomed and like she belonged even though she does not live in Seattle. She wanted to bring that feeling to the Eastside. Also, Nguyen added, she just enjoys dancing.

“I do love dancing,” she said.

DIFFERENT REASONS TO DANCE

In addition to learning the different cultural dances, Nguyen said the dance instructors will also share the art and history of their respective dances.

Jackie Villegas-MacLin, who will be teaching flamenco dancing on Saturday, said when she was first approached about the event, she really liked the idea of sharing her art with others.

She said flamenco is similar to WDP Eastside as oftentimes in Spain, there are gatherings that bring together families and community members of all ages to dance.

“I’m very excited to be a part of this,” said Villegas-MacLin, who is the director of Jacquelina’s Dances of Spain in Kirkland.

For Arundhati Baitmangalkar, her Bollywood style of dancing is about having fun. Bollywood stems from the Indian film industry of the same name. She said in those films, there are many musical numbers.

“We’ll just burst out into song anywhere,” she said. “It’s just fun.”

Baitmangalkar, owner of Bollyworks dance studio in Redmond, described Bollywood dancing as high energy and something for all ages. She also added that the style has become very popular for exercising as some gyms now offer Bollywood fitness classes.

EASY INTRODUCTIONS TO DANCE

In addition to educating people about different cultures and showing how dance can be a form of exercise, Natasha Maltseva said WDP Eastside is also an opportunity to show people that dancing doesn’t have to be hard.

Maltseva, who owns LaVida Dance & Yoga in Bellevue and will be teaching salsa on Saturday, said WDP Eastside is an easy way for people who are curious to just give dancing a try.

Villegas-MacLin and Baitmangalkar agreed. They said for those who may find the idea of dancing scary or intimidating, there are no expectations at Saturday’s event.

Nguyen noted that it will be an all-ages event so everyone will be at different dancing levels and abilities.

“There’s a place for everyone in dance,” said Villegas-MacLin.

Baitmangalkar added, “If you have fun, if you move a little bit, that is a success.”

THE FIRST OF MANY

While Saturday’s event is just the first WDP Eastside event, Randhawa said it will not be their last. She said they have plans to hold future events, with plans for the next one in spring 2016. Randhawa said they plan to hold events throughout the Eastside, not just in Redmond.

In addition, she said they plan to include other styles of dance such as Appalachian clogging and Chinese dancing — both of which they discovered while planning Saturday’s event but were unable to showcase due to scheduling conflicts.

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