On Wednesday, October 16, Harbor Day students welcomed Ramya’s Traditions of India from Segerstrom Center for the Arts. After Ramya and the students said namaste to each other, which translates to “greetings from my heart to yours”, Ramya told the students they would see dances from Southern and Northern India, dances that dated back over 5,000 years ago. People performed these dances originally in temples as part of worship in telling stories accompanied by music and singing. The first dance, Bharata Natyam is from Southern India. The woman dancing wore a beautiful costume in subtle greens and ivory, accented by a bright pink shawl. In addition, she wore elaborate jewelry along with small bells strung on her ankles, and as she danced the bells added further music to go along with her dance. The second dance from Northern India is called Kattuk, which is a word used to describe rhythmic patterns. Although there were similarities between the two dances with both women using their hands and gestures along with strings of bells to share a story, the Kattuk dance involved complex pirouettes with an increasing musical tempo. They invited students from many grades to the stage to learn the basics of the dance as the audience learned the names of each of the steps to help guide those on stage. After the students returned to their seats, they performed a full dance that built-in complexity as the dance progressed. The dancer of the Northern Indian dance also wore gorgeous clothing, featuring turquoises and pinks along with a long skirt which accented her twirls and a fabric sheath over her hair with ornate beading along the edging. Storytelling is very important in Indian dance. There are 28 single hand gestures and 23 dual hand gestures, each communicating a certain object or action to convey a tale. Ramya performed a dance while explaining what each gesture translated to for the students. The drummer accompanying the dancers shared stories about the history of percussion in India. He played the drums in a seated position with quick tapping of the fingers and also the running of palms in the center of the drum skin to sustain deeper notes. The complex tapping represents additional words in sharing a story, and the students enthusiastically clapped along and drummed on their legs during the drummer’s performance. The presentation concluded by two dancers performing in unison in their respective styles with the drums and recorded music to the delight of the students. The students were fascinated by the final dance and upon conclusion of the program, everyone in the audience rose to their feet to give the performers a standing “O”. The presentation gave the students a wonderful insight into the significance of the history of dance in India, and the importance of future generations continuing to study these dances throughout the world.