Trinibagonian – American: Nirvana Sookdeo, The Gifted Dancer

Nirvana Sookdeo

The Gifted Dancer

Nirvana is a native Floridian, born to Trinidadian parents twenty years ago in Miami where she currently resides. She’s currently a student at the University of Florida (UF), and a professional Indian dancer.

At UF she’s majoring in Women’s Studies and minoring in Health Disparities in a Global Society, on a Pre-Medical path with aspirations to become an Obstetrician/Gynecologist.

At the age of four, she became heavily involved in her Hindu Temple. “From singing to dancing to skits portraying Trinidadian holidays, I found an outlet to express my passion for my culture.”

As a former Miss USA Mastana Bahar, her platform was to encourage children to be unafraid of being ridiculed for their interest in their culture and learning where they came from. “I held multiple dance workshops and gave speeches motivating children to express themselves through any medium, whether dancing or playing an instrument. Growing up, seeing how uninterested my peers were in learning about their family history inspired me to be that person who opens children eyes to how beautiful our roots are.”

She regards the most memorable aspect of her young career as teaching Bollywood and Bharatanatyam style Indian dance to youth ages 3 to 18 years across Florida. “I strongly believe children are capable of carrying on the traditions of yesterday; it just depends on how willing we are to lead the way.”

Her students have performed at various Diwali shows, Trinidadian Independence programs and cultural events across South Florida.

The proceeds she made from teaching dance were donated to the Westlyn Home for Children in Chickland, Trinidad. “Being able to utilize my talents to promote the Indian culture and make life better for needy children makes my hard work and dedication incredibly worthwhile and humbling.”

She plans to continue teaching Bollywood and Bharatanatyam Indian dancing while advancing her career. This Diwali, she’ll represent the US in the Diwali Nagar pageant, and wants to leave a footprint in her community to “prove dedication and passion can take you anywhere in life.”

“I am proud of my heritage. Trinidadians are accepting of each other’s religious practices and ethnicities with open arms.” Her experience in Trinidad’s Diwali Nagar from her youth, highlighted what it means to be a Trini: “diversified and culturally inspired.”

Her Trinbagonian heritage also made her “an open-minded, accepting, and cultured young adult, most proud of how unified the people of T&T are, celebrating holidays and religious festivals as one people. “Being a Trinidadian and Tobagonian-American is a blessing I’ll forever be grateful for. May God always bless our nation.”

 

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