Sunday, March 7, 2021

Supporting women, Bollywood style

Disha's 'Dance for Dignity' workshop aims to create awareness that women and girls who are facing poverty or violent situations, and are going without basic sanitary items

Reading Time: 3 minutesOver 100 movers and shakers who love Bollywood dancing, got to shake their hips for a very special purpose recently.
They were participating in ‘Dance for Dignity’ workshops, initiated and led by the not-for-profit Disha – The Direction to Hope. The aim was to support women and girls in Melbourne who find themselves in a financial crisis and homeless due to domestic violence, forced to choose between buying food and essential sanitary items.

“Our mission is to reach out and touch the community and help where we can,” shares Somya Rastogi, who co-organised the event with Meera Rastogi. “This time we wanted to support women experiencing domestic violence. Since we are an Indian-Australian organisation, we thought we would do a Bollywood workshop to raise funds for the Essential Items Pack.”
She adds, “We wanted to bring about awareness and change within our community – and beyond – that women and girls who are homeless, facing poverty or in violent situations, are going without basic sanitary items.”
The enthusiasm was palpable on the floor at the venue Skydeck in Prahran. The tickets for the event were sold via Eventbrite, open to public and included Disha family and friends. The first workshop titled ‘Bolly-Beats’ had 40 participants groove to mainstream style with Laila Main Laila. In the second workshop called ‘Bolly-Street’, 65 participants learned to dance Indian-street style to Kaala Chashma. Each hour-long workshop was directed and pre-designed by Studio J Dance Artistic Director, Gerard Piggy, and his assistant Zoe Arsana.

The wannabe dancers were given hip scarves and sunglasses to raise the enthusiasm. “It was challenging and fun,” recounts Somya. “Everyone walked away having learnt a one-minute choreographed sequence.”
Meera observes, “We had a good mix of Indian and Australian community from a wide age group, old and young, including kids and some men join us, which was great.”
Disha is reputed for designing events by collaborating with organisations to support and raise funds for cancer and other worthwhile causes. They connect with teams who are experts and already doing solid work for the community.
“Whether it’s equipment or consumable items, we are involved from start to finish in terms of actual distribution to those in need,” says Somya.
This time they chose national organisation Share The Dignity, whose team enables mobilisation and distribution of sanitary items to women and girls in relevant shelters and crisis homes, who are homeless, at-risk and in domestic violence situations. They started work on the event over three months ago, approaching Share The Dignity in March and were guided by Terry Norris, Events Queen Volunteer, on tangible ways in which to support them.

The ticket cost from each participant, valued at $30, was used to create an Essential Items Pack filled with eleven sanitary and personal hygiene items: shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush multipack, toothpaste, sanitary pads, tampons, hair ties, body wash, soap, hand sanitiser and deodorant. Participants also brought in large pre-loved handbags in which an Essential Items Pack would be placed for those in need.
An event of such nature is impossible without its sponsors and supporters. Kudos to the three major sponsors: Desi Dhaba and Tandoori Times funded the dance teachers and venue, and Chemist Warehouse (Geelong & Corio Stores) filled the Essential Item Packs.
Other sponsors included Zingalala (additional sanitary items), Touché Cafe Bar (Cakes), Woolworths Mornington East Store (Fruit), Oakleigh Donut Company, Fern Textiles (Bottled Water) and Danielle Allison (Photography).
The lucky draw prizes were supplied by Studio J Dance, Lajeen Make Up Artistry, Big Bottle Co, Zingalala and Toscano’s. Over 100 packs would be distributed as part of this initiative by Disha and Share The Dignity.
Wish to support Disha? Find out more at www.disha.org.au

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Hamida Parkar
Hamida Parkar is a freelance journalist and founder-editor of cinemaspotter.com. Her work focuses on cinema, culture, women and social equity.

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