Sahana Athreya ’25 (She/Her), Staff Writer
We Are Wildcats is a human-interest column that aims to share the extraordinary within the ordinary at Davidson College and to showcase the inspiring things that make each and every Wildcat unique. If you wish to be featured or know someone whose story needs to be heard, please feel free to contact email@example.com! Stay tuned for future stories! This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Sahana: Today I’m joined by the lovely Shreya Sharma, who’ll be talking about her experience learning Haitian dance for the first time. Shreya, would you like to share your class year, pronouns and major?
Shreya: I am a sophomore in the class of 2024, my pronouns are she/ her/ hers, and I am an intended Psych major on the pre-med track.
Sahana: What has been your journey with dance thus far?
Shreya: I’ve grown up dancing for a really long time, and have grown up doing a lot of cultural dances, specifically Indian classical dance, Bharatnatyam and Indian folk dance, Bhangra. I knew that at some point I wanted to take a class that let me learn new dance forms because that’s always been really exciting for me, and also just incorporates dance into my everyday life at Davidson, which, without a class, wasn’t going to be regularly incorporated. And so I signed up for the Haitian dance class, which was so incredible. We started dancing twice a week, and I absolutely loved it. It was so cool to be in a place that allowed me to move my body and reground myself emotionally and physically.
Sahana: How would you say Haitian dance is different from the Indian dances you’ve grown up learning?
Shreya: They’re both very cultural in the sense that there’s a strong tie to social movements that have gone on within their respective cultures. Also, there’s virtually no separation from the music; that’s something I see in a lot of cultural dances; the dance is very much a part of the music and they interact together and can’t interact without each other. I guess differences between them are just in the steps. My body is forced to move in such different ways for Haitian dance than it is for any of my Indian dances. It’s really interesting to watch my body unlearn traditional movements. Dr. Chapman always mentions that there are certain moves that I do like an Indian classical dancer. It’s hard to separate that because it’s just so ingrained in my muscles and it’s cool because I end up performing some sort of fusion of the two.
Sahana: Has dance affected other areas of your life?
Shreya: Yeah, definitely. Last semester, one of my friends passed away, and it was extremely hard to go to any class. When I emailed Dr. Chapman, I said, “I don’t know how long it’s going to take me to come back to class,” and she said, “I think you should try to come. I think you might find that it’s actually really freeing.” The first couple of dance classes almost breathed life back into me; I just felt so much more grounded. And I felt so much more like I was in my physical body, whereas during all other parts of the day, I just felt so disconnected from anything physical in my life. So that was really incredible. And I think I’ve since then really accepted dance as a real escape from everything that’s happening, and also something that grounds me. It both lets me escape from my body and also rejoin it.