Paisley’s cross-cultural connections took centre stage in a unique blend of traditional and fusion style dance celebrating Indian culture and heritage.
The annual Abhinaya Dance Showcase – held in Paisley for the first time in support of Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021 – saw almost 80 students of all ages from the West of Scotland perform classical Indian style Bharatanatyam and contemporary dance in front of a packed audience.
Paisley 2021 Bid Director even put a spotlight on Paisley’s ambitions by lighting the traditional festival lamp for the opening ceremony of the event.
The youngest dancers from the Abhinaya Dance Academy then took to the stage, starting a fast-paced extravaganza that featured a traditional peacock dance and fusion style dance-ercise.
The event also saw 15 senior students receive Salangai Pooja, the traditional ankle bells worn by dancers that have completed formal study of Bharatanatyam.
Paisley’s Indian roots are best known through the Paisley Pattern, the town’s global brand which descended from the original kashmiri shawls, made famous by the town’s weavers.
Earlier this year the Paisley Pattern featured in the cross-cultural fashion show in Paisley Abbey in a showcase of students’ work from India and their Scottish counterparts in Glasgow Kelvin College.
And while the town’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021 is retelling Paisley’s unique story of its one time place at the centre of the global textile industry, the town is also building upon its diverse cultural scene.
Councillor Mark Macmillan, chair of the Paisley 2021 Partnership Board, said: “We’ve been getting out into the community finding out what makes Paisley’s culture and discovering some unique gems showcasing the town’s past but also present and future.
“The Abhinaya show was a fantastic mix of Indian and contemporary dance styles, a perfect combination showcasing the town’s cross-cultural links.
“Paisley’s connection to India is important for the town. Our global brand – the Paisley Pattern – is a significant part of our town’s weaving heritage and instantly recognisable today.
“The iconic design, which descended from the original kashmiri shawls, made an enormous impact on the town’s economy during the 1800s, and it’s a key part of the town’s ambitious regeneration plans and the bid for UK City of Culture 2021.”
Mrs Esther Sunija Binu of Abhinaya Dance Academy said: “We were all so proud to showcase the South Asian culture and dance to the town and bringing people from multicultural backgrounds together through culture.
“On behalf of the Abhinaya Dance Academy I would like to thank everyone who has supported us to make this Dance Showcase a grand and a memorable event, especially Jean Cameron, Abhinaya’s dance students, Paisley Town Hall and the Big Lottery Fund. I also like to thank everyone for the appreciative and positive comments after the show; this will encourage students to perform at higher levels.