Shikha Annem Does Indian Dance
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Shikha Annem has been dancing for eight years, but it’s not the typical American dancing that most people know. It’s known as Bollywood dancing to modern day Americans and Indian dancing to her.
“[Dancing] is a stress reliever for me sometimes,” Shikha said. “And it’s just fun.”
When Shikha got involved in dancing, she didn’t know the background of her culture or realize the importance of it. Her mom, Pallavi Annem, introduced Indian dancing to Shikha at the age of eight. Although Pallavi never got the chance to be involved in dancing, she wanted to give Shikha a chance to understand the importance of her culture while also giving her the opportunity she never had when she was younger.
“It was hard for her because it took a lot of learning and there was a language barrier,” Pallavi said. “Despite all of it, she brought out a lot of effort, and she goes on stage and she really loves it. That, as a parent, was a really proud moment.”
Before going onstage to perform, Shikha’s mom helps her prepare by putting on the different customs that are a part of the performances. The dancers wear traditional garments that are used for design and to honor the culture. One of their customs involves designing the hands and feet. This is known as Parani, and it’s used as an accessory.
“It takes four to five hours to get her ready; it’s really an all-day event,” Pallavi said. “It gets really intense because there’s so much to do.”
Pallavi isn’t the only fan of Shikha. Best friend sophomore Madeline DeGraw attends her performances and cheers alongside Shikha’s mother.
“The dance they do up there is insane,” DeGraw said. “They have to memorize it all. I don’t think I could ever [do that].”
Shikha only has two years left before she receives a degree that allows her to be certified for teaching others how to dance. When she finishes the course, she will be able to advance to the next level, where she receives her degree. Although she’s almost at mastery level, there’s never a day when she doesn’t learn anything new.
“Every day is something different and it tells a story,” Shikha said. “That’s what I like about it the most.”
Though Shikha loves dancing now, she didn’t always. When she was younger, Shikha didn’t appreciate dancing as much as she does now. Pallavi helped her get used to the shifts in her schedule that are now a part of her weekly routine.
“You have to be bent on your knees a lot,” Pallavi said. “And she used to be like ‘Oh man, I have to get on my knees again.’ But I explained how you have to put in work, and now she puts on a smile.”
Shikha loves dancing, but she doesn’t see herself doing it as she gets older and graduates high school. She appreciates her mom for putting her in dancing and learning something new about herself that she never knew before.
“I don’t think I would ever go into professional [dancing],” Shikha said. “Maybe just through high school.”