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 in schools in 2018, she has performed this show in 200 + schools. Karima’s new focus is on celebrating that all bodies can dance by bringing the Body Positivity movement to Bollywood Dance in schools and communities. 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
Community Shows, Festivals, Theatres
Bollywood Star Workshop & Performance
In her trademark charming and humorous style, award-winning Bollywood dancer and choreographer Karima Essa showcases Bollywood dance as a fun cultural art form by opening with an electrifying dance in full regalia. She'll then lead a fun and engaging dance workshop to inspire people of all ages and abilities to get up and dance with her. You'll learn the basic elements of Bollywood dance, including signature neck and head movements, facial expressions and foot and hand movements, to current Bollywood hits.
All ages: 45-minute show
Bollywood Dance Workshops & Residencies
Bollywood dance is a high-energy, vibrant dance style which originated in the Indian film industry. It combines elements of classical Indian dance, folk dance, and modern dance styles, creating a unique and dynamic dance form that is popular around the world. Karima's 1-day workshops are designed to introduce students to the basic elements of Bollywood dance while building their confidence and skills in a fun and supportive environment. She teaches students basic Bollywood dance steps and techniques while using a range of props, such as scarves and Dandiya sticks to add an extra element of fun. Students will also learn about the importance of facial expressions and body language in Bollywood dance, and how to use these elements to convey emotion and tell a story through movement. At the end of the day, students will perform a follow-and-repeat dance routine that showcases highlights from each group's workshop. This is a fun and inclusive way to celebrate the students' learning and showcase their newfound skills. In addition, Karima also offers a special lunchtime dance session for interested teachers, who will learn a simple dance routine that they can perform as a surprise for their students.
Multiple day residencies offer a more in-depth exploration of Bollywood dance and allow students to build their skills over time. On the final day of the residency, students will showcase their dances in a performance for their school community.
Grades: K -12
Duration: 1 day. A daily schedule will be determined with the school and artist and usually consists of 4-5 x 45-min workshops with a 30-min dance performance and showcase at the end of the day or the residency.
Capacity: 60 kids per grouping.
Inquire for daily rates. Discounted pricing is available for multi-day residencies, allowing schools to bring Karima back for 3-, 5- or 10-day workshops.
Body Positive Bollywood - School & Theatre Show
Since age 4, Karima's been gracing the stage in dance competitions, events and in recent years, OMNI TV's Bollywood Star reality show. She grew up thinking she needed to be a certain shape and size fuelled by propaganda from the entertainment industry. Her Bollywood workshop-style dance show celebrates the vibrant and colorful culture of South Asia, while also promoting positive messages of self-love and acceptance. She also incorporates breathing techniques and ideologies from ancient scholars, which adds a layer of spirituality to the dance practice. Her personal growth and self-acceptance are powerful messages for young people struggling with body image issues. Overall, Karima's work is not just about teaching dance but also about empowering individuals to feel confident and comfortable in their own skin. Her message serves as a reminder that true happiness comes from within and not from external validation. People of all shapes and sizes will leave inspired to accept and love themselves inside and out, on and off the dance floor!
Duration: 45 minutes + 15 min. Q&A
Capacity: entire school
Virtual Bollywood Dance Modules on Arts IQ
Karima's virtual Bollywood dance program with professionally pre-recorded dance lessons and performance videos is available for teacher and school subscriptions on the Arts IQ platform now. Visit artsiq.ca/karima-essa.
“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