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  1. ITV Report

Bollywood dance teacher promoting cultural awareness nominated at National Diversity Awards

A Bollywood dance teacher who is trying to promote inclusion and reduce racism in her community has been nominated for the National Diversity Awards.

Natasha Koshti-Symons set up a Bollywood Dance School 11 years ago in Plymouth, unaware of the impact she would have.

One of the main drivers behind starting her dance school was the desire to share a part of her culture with Plymouth.

“I started researching Bollywood dance, the culture.

"I started Bharatanatyam lessons, Kathak lessons, to get the traditional side,” Natasha told ITV News.

Natasha trained in Bollywood dance before returning to Plymouth to pass on her skills and knowledge.

She then trained with renowned Bollywood choreographer Saroj Khan, before returning to Plymouth to pass on her skills and knowledge.

“I started running more regular classes, going into schools, running cultural workshops and getting myself out there, getting involved with different events," she said.

Over a decade on, and her work has been important in introducing a unique part of Asian culture to Plymouth locals, and breaking down barriers.

“Bollywood is now normal in Plymouth.

"People know us, people accept the culture and the dance and they enjoy it,” she told ITV News.

Natasha has been important in introducing a unique part of Asian culture to Plymouth locals.

Natasha’s Bollywood dance school is not only bridging the gap between two cultures, but is open to everyone of all ages, race and abilities.

She and her dancers perform across the city, but it’s only part of the work she does.

Natasha and her father Anil run educational cultural sessions as a safe environment for people to engage and ask questions about Asian culture.

With this, they hope to reduce racism, break down racial stereotypes and promote inclusion.

Anil is incredibly proud of his daughter's accomplishments, and told ITV News: “We’re all the same, and in the end,integration through culture is one of the best forms of bringing people together.”

Natasha and her father run educational cultural sessions for people to engage and ask questions about Asian culture.

Natasha was nominated for the Positive Role Model Award for Race, Religion and Faith.

In a region with cultural and ethnic diversity below the UK average, her students have praised Natasha’s community work in improving cross-cultural understanding.

“She’s absolutely brilliant, really inspirational,” said one of her students.

Another said: “I’m pleased to see there’s a lot more cultural diversity going on so I would definitely embrace something like this.”

The National Diversity Awards will take place in Liverpool Cathedral on the evening of Friday, September 20.

The awards acknowledge the work of local everyday heroes who celebrate and encourage diversity, irrespective of race, faith religion, gender sexual orientation, age, disability and culture.

  • The National Diversity Awards will be streamed live on the ITV News website from 9pm on Friday September 20.