Celebrating diversity

Global Crossroads highlights various cultures


Although Neeru Tindoni was born and raised in London, England she never lost her Indian roots.

Tindoni has been dancing since she was young and has always incorporated her North Indian culture into her dance.

“(Dance) is a natural part of the Indian culture,” she said. “You can’t avoid it.”

Tindoni will perform with PNM Dance Group during the Global Crossroads Culture and Music Festival on Saturday from 1 – 7 p.m.

USI’s’s Historic New Harmony and Under the Beams have collaborated since 2014 to produce the festival. This year’s main focus is on Indian Culture but will showcase other cultures as well.

Tindoni’s group will have 58 dancers performing from age three to 60.

“We just formed the group together,” she said. “ It’s been a few years and it’s been wonderful. It’s a beautiful thing to see the little kids dancing and the range of diversity in the group.”

The dance students will be performing different Indian dances focusing on Bollywood, folktales and a North Indian folk dance.

“We will all be dressed in different types of Indian dresses,” Tindoni said. “We’ve been practicing for a couple of months now.”

Tindoni said she has been working with their dance teacher, Pachi and Monica, the group’s dance official, to help pull the show together.

“We also design backdrops so people can see what India is like,” she said. “I designed a silk safari backdrop and sewing it all  takes weeks to put together. It will give people an idea about India.”

She said the three of them work hard to try and get the kids registered and to practices.

“It’s been very challenging working with 3-year-olds,” Tindoni said. “But everyone will be going ‘aw’ when they see them because they look adorable in their full Indian costumes. It will give everybody something to look at that they haven’t seen before.”

There are 29 states in India and 22 official languages all of which Tindoni wants to try and feature on Saturday.

“A lot of people might not be aware India is a beautiful and colorful country that celebrates different religions and festivals,” Tindoni said. “I’m hoping through this that we are able to show diversity, it’s not one type of music and one type of thing… when they see it on stage showing different fashions, cultures and foods, they see another side of India.”

Tindoni said she hopes people are able to learn about India through their performances, especially about Bollywood.

“I’m excited that we can show a range of colors and show the range of India with colors and food,” she said. “It’s a beautiful thing because a lot of people wouldn’t have the chance to see it.”

Tindoni said dance is incorporated with everything they do in India, from weddings to movie theaters.

“Every party incorporates dance,” she said. “You can’t escape it.”

Erin McCracken Merris, community engagement manager for New Harmony said a lot of people in the community will be participating in the festival, so they can share their heritage and culture.

“The Southern Indiana region isn’t know for being fairly diverse,” Merris said. “There’s a large Indian community of 10,000 in Newburgh and the Latino population is growing as well. It’s important to learn who your neighbors are, learn how to bridge those gaps and come together as a community and celebrate each other’s heritage.”

The festival will feature award-winning world music band Funkadesi. The band blends Indian (Bhangra, Bollywood and Folk), Reggae, Funk and Afro-Caribbean music for a festive, virtuoso experience of cultural unity.

“This year we decided to have a more global focus and not encompass one specific region but to have differences from various cultures,” Merris said.

The festival will feature foods from different cultures, including Indian, Caribbean and Latino.

“I don’t think people think about this area being a very diverse place but there are a lot of cultures and different cultures that live here,” she said. “Maybe not in the high percentages a larger city has but we do have a lot more than people are aware of. This festival is just one way of showcasing and learning about that and learning about the people that live and work in our community and make up that diverse population.”

Merris said one of the university’s main goals is to have more of a global presence.

“Our international students aren’t from a couple of different countries they are from many different cultures around the world,” she said. “They are coming to USI to study and we felt instead of singling out one culture or group as a university we are having to celebrate more on this region and more on our global outreach.”

Merris said this is a great opportunity for people to have a different cultural experience from one they experience on a normal day to day basis.

“Despite all the rhetoric due to the election we are coming together as a community from different areas to accept have fun and get to know each other better,” Merris said. “It’s a wonderful way to bring together a lot of different people and that’s how we get stronger. When we come together despite our differences to make a better community and region we get stronger.”

For a schedule visit https://www.usi.edu/news/releases/2016/10/global-crossroads-festival-collaborates-to-bring-international-culture-to-new-harmony/

There will be a shuttle to and from campus

The event is free part from the concert that night.

You can purchase tickets at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2016-global-crossroads-culture-music-fest-concert-tickets-27398349200

The band Funikidazi will perform at 11:45 a.m. on Friday, October 22 to perform for USI students and faculty at the Rice Plaza Amphitheatre.