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A three-time Canadian National Dance champion, Karima Essa is Vancouver’s very own Bollywood star. An incredibly charismatic and passionate performer, choreographer and instructor, she has used her one-of-a-kind Bollywood talent to entertain diverse audiences at festivals, theatres and in schools across Canada.  In 2014, her love for Bollywood took her to the screens in Mumbai, India, as a two-time finalist on Omni TV’s reality show, Bollywood Star. With style, grace and a flair for the dramatic, she has been captivating adult and young audiences for decades.

 Since first showcasing her Bollywood Star School show with ArtStarts in 2018, she has performed this show in 100 + schools. Karima’s new focus is on celebrating that all bodies can dance by bringing the Body Positivity movement to Bollywood Dance in schools. Karima is also completing her Education Assistance certification and is interested in exploring how dance can help improve socio-emotional skills in children with autism or other special needs

Live & Virtual Performances 

Bollywood Dance Video Modules

Karima Essa is offering schools pre-recorded Bollywood Dance video modules for elementary and high schools for beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. Each dance module includes approx. 30-40 minutes of pre-recorded content and includes an interactive warm up, dance lesson, performance and cool down. The school will have access to stream the dance module(s) as many times as they like until the end of the school year.

Module 1 Beginner Bollywood (grades K-2)

Module 2 Intermediate Bollywood (grades 3-5)

Module 3 Advanced Bollywood (grades 6-7)

Module 4 Beginner Bollywood (grades 8)

Module 5 Intermediate Bollywood (9-10)

Module 6 Advanced Bollywood (grades 11-12)

Body Positive Bollywood Dance Workshops 

In this 1-day workshop, students will learn that ALL bodies can dance like a Bollywood Star! In her trademark charming and humorous style, Karima teaches students the basic elements of Bollywood dance, including neck and head movements, facial expressions and foot and hand movements, while also using props such as scarves and Dandiya sticks. The music selection and level of dance choreography will match the energy and technical ability for each grade grouping. At the end of the day,  students will be ready to perform their dance(s) to peers and/or parents in a show. Karima will also perform her own Bollywood dance choreography in full regalia. Inquire for multiple-day residency options.


Grades: K -12 

Duration: 1 day (30-45 min sessions / grade grouping)

Capacity: 60 kids per grouping

Bollywood Star - Show

Karima Essa showcases Bollywood dance as a fun cultural art form by opening with an electrifying dance in full regalia. During her interactive and high-energy show suitable for festival, theatre and school audiences, you’ll learn about the origins of Bollywood dance along with some traditional and popular dance moves and key words in Hindi from Bollywood cinema. She demonstrates how you can express different emotions, such as happiness and sadness, through the key elements of Bollywood dance involving intricate hand movements (mudras), neck and head movements, facial expressions and foot movements.

Grades: K-7

Duration: 45 minutes + 15 min. Q&A

Capacity: entire school

Body Positive Bollywood - Show

Since age 4, Karima’s been gracing the stage in dance competitions, events and most recently on OMNI TV’s Bollywood Star reality show. When she hit puberty at 11, her body unwittingly became a blank canvas in which people could “paint” their admiration and adoration or their judgement and criticism. She grew up thinking she needed to be a “size zero” fuelled by the vanity of the Bollywood industry. However, she has finally grown to love her new, beautiful body. Karima’s Bollywood workshop-style dance show infuses music, breathing and ideologies from ancient scholars from the Middle East and South Asia. She shares personal anecdotes and insights into the Bollywood film industry, and her vision on how we can all have the courage to counteract society's narrow beauty ideals. Students of all shapes and sizes will leave inspired to accept and love themselves inside and out, on and off the dance floor!

Grades: 4-12

Duration: 45 minutes + 15 min. Q&A

Capacity: entire school



Karima had the students fully engaged in her performance. She was charismatic and funny and her show had just the right amount of watch-and-learn and follow-me! The students and staff were entertained and learned about the magic of communicating through music.

—Celidh Deichmann, Acting Vice-Principal & Grade One Teacher, Lakewood Elementary School

Karima Essa was fun, high energy and had our entire community audience engaged!

—Nikki Lajeunesse Recreation Programmer Queensborough Community Centre

As a performer, Karima is the best combination: highly skilled and not-intimidating. Watching her perform inspires people from toddler to senior to join in, and Karima’s praise, levity and pure love keeps people dancing – and coming back for more.”

Jennifer Taylor, Kitsilano Community Centre Community Engagement Coordinator

Many families celebrating Diwali (the Festival of Lights) enjoy Bollywood dancing, and Karima’s workshop engaged families unfamiliar with the festival to get involved. She translated language into dance using corresponding expression and movement when teaching our younger guests, which resulted in amazing participation from everyone. We were thrilled with our audience turnout this year and plan to invite her again.

Mital Gorman, Diwali in Kits Event Organizer