Personal Narrative: Indian-American Dance

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As a first-generation Sri Lankan-American, people often assume I am Indian-American, which creates even more confusion than my feelings of being torn between two cultures. In response, as a young teenager, I began to feel like I did not belong anywhere and began to crave acceptance. I did not know where I stood.

Fortunately, in middle school, I began taking Sri Lankan dance classes at the local Buddhist Temple. The instructor and students were Sri Lankan, and the class was taught in Sinhalese, my first language. We danced to traditional songs, and I felt connected to my family and ancestors in Sri Lanka. However, when I entered high school, the only dance class available was a combination of traditional American dances: jazz, ballet and tap. I enrolled in this class, where I was the only Sri Lankan. Over the school year, I began to realize that all types of dance are a form of expression that tell stories and communicate feelings. I had discovered a middle ground. I decided to stop taking classes at the temple and work toward making the dance team at my high school.
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Through hours of rehearsals and performances, I repeatedly noticed the similarities between dance styles. As a result, when I dance, I am able to merge my two cultures. I no longer feel torn. Today, I am confident in my identity as a Sri Lankan-American dancer, who is often mistaken for an
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