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Dancing through lockdowns

When Melbourne first went into lockdown in 2020, many community groups and organisations needed to adapt to a new way of delivering their activities. It was no different for Nepalese women's group Didi Bahini Samaj, who needed to find a new way to deliver their weekly dance class. 

Executive member Nirmala Nyaupane explained, “Our dance classes are really important for our community, for physical health and mental wellbeing. With the lockdowns during COVID, we weren’t able to meet face-to-face but we wanted to keep people motivated and connected.” 

The group knew that they needed to go online, so they started virtual dance classes for men and women, guided by volunteer dance teacher Ranjan Vaidya.  

“My love for dancing came in handy during the lockdown. We ran three sessions each week where we practiced a variety of dances styles from Nepalese to Spanish and Bollywood. All online dance sessions offered were completely free. What started as a small group of family and friends quickly grew to around 40 participants!” Ranjan says. 

Despite sometimes slow internet speeds and a lack of physical environment, there was no shortage of keen participants. One of the participants who works in the health industry even joined the session during her recesses from her hospital job, so she didn’t miss the week’s dance move! 

“I choose simple steps and choreograph the moves to suit the participants who vary in age and dance experience. We even organised an online performance for the Nepalese festival 'Teej', a festival celebrated by women all over Nepal each August.”  

“A virtual class certainly kept us connected but post lockdown, being able to meet face-to-face and dance together is amazing. The atmosphere of the room is simply fantastic... big smiles, a keenness to learn, positive energy and lots of laughter. I really enjoy contributing to the wellbeing of the community.” 

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