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 on 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
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. For longer residencies, students will be ready to perform their dance(s) to their 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
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. Students 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