Aaja Nachle earlier last month released a five-minutes dance video that narrates the journey of a migrant who leaves the comfort of his home and travels to a distant land looking for a better future.

The dance video project ‘Pravasee’ by one of the most renowned Indian dance groups in New Zealand is a tribute to those migrants who not only sacrificed the warmth of their homeland and country but took upon a challenge looking for a new beginning for themselves and their families.

The project is funded by Creative NZ and supported by Arogya Mantra.

The dance was first conceptualised and performed with 11 dancers from Aaja Nachle at a Diwali event in Manukau. It was later filmed with only six dancers in December, and the video was released to the public on Indian Republic Day, January 26 this year.

The troupe of six for the ‘Pravasee’ dance project included Ambaree Rege, Kalyani Yajnanarayan, Tanima Mahadevan, Vrikshikha Velan, Purnima Garg and Rebecca Sabu.

Kalyani was born and raised in New Zealand and collaborated with Aaja Nachle for this project; Tanima moved to the country two years back. Vrikshikha is a student at the University in Auckland had moved to NZ just a few years ago. She is a teacher at Aaja Nachle for classical Indian and western dance.

Purnima moved to NZ five years back as a student with her brother, who is currently stuck in India due to border closures. Rebecca, a temporary migrant worker in NZ and joined the Aaja Nachle team after the project.

All dancers in the troupe are migrants, have moved to New Zealand at different points in the last ten years but share a common feeling of struggle, loneliness, hope and perseverance.

“Each of them had different stories to tell about their experiences so far in New Zealand, struggles, achievements, work, studies, mental wellbeing, and how they poured their emotions into the music dance project,” Ambaree Rege, a spokesperson from Aaja Nachle told The Indian Weekender. 

The dance project is also a way to raise awareness of some spoken and unspoken difficulties migrant workers and families face concerning their work, visas, travelling back home, and future.

Another representative from Aaja Nachle adds that the dance projects a migrant’s perspective on encountering life in the pandemic living here in New Zealand.

“The purpose of this project us to build compassion and an understanding of migrants’ lives and the challenges they face.

“We are a multicultural nation and hope this project can celebrate our rich diversity allowing people to relate to one another through art.

“I am sure that migrants not just from the Indian subcontinent, but people from different ethnicities living in New Zealand living as migrants or non-migrants would have experienced similar emotions of fear, loneliness and hope during this period,” a member from the Aaja Nachle team said.

The performers in the group come from different backgrounds, share diverse perspectives in the dance project, and the same is reflected in their performances.

“We all have south-east Asian heritage and wanted to express our feelings and be a voice for the community through dance,” the spokesperson added.

All the performers are professionally trained in classical Indian dance form, Bharatanatyam, and Kathak, and danced against the backdrop of a fusion of classical Indian and contemporary popular music.

“The feedback from the community members since the release of the dance video has been positive and very encouraging.

“The team has put their heart and soul in the ‘Pravasee’ project, and it is reflected in their dance performance, is the best feedback we have received from our community,” the representative said.