Releasing May 3, Radhika Sen’s first children’s book, The Indian Dance Show, will transport you to the vibrant world of Indian dance. The book features more than a dozen dance styles for you to learn and enjoy through step-by-step rhyming recitals.
Sen is a lifelong lover of art. Her childhood in Arizona was filled with dance and music lessons of all kinds. After graduating from the Arathi School of Dance in high school, she continued performing various types of Indian dance as a student at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
In preparation for the book’s release, we’re pleased to share further insight into Sen’s inspiration and the process of writing and publishing her first children’s book.
1. What was the inspiration behind writing The Indian Dance Show?
When I was a little girl, I absolutely loved Indian dance. I learned a classical style of Indian dance called Bharatanatyam starting from the age of four and have been passionate about dancing ever since.
Growing up in the U.S., there were never any children’s books about this activity I loved so much. I always wished there was a book for me that was similar to the many delightful books I saw about ballet and tap dance.
A few years ago, I revisited this thought and I realized that there were still few, if any, children’s books about Indian dance. I thought to myself, Why not create something different that a curious child could enjoy? I really wanted to create a book that showcased the beautiful and diverse world of Indian dance that most children might not otherwise be exposed to.
I believe that it’s invaluable for all people, especially children, to enjoy world cultures. By being exposed to different art, music, languages, foods, traditions, and beliefs, young children gain a broader understanding of and appreciation for people who are different from themselves. There is so much beauty in diversity; if I have a chance to share that beauty, then why not?
From my own experience, I feel lucky and thankful to have grown up as an Indian American. I was exposed from day one to both cultures, and I feel that the teachings of both have positively and profoundly impacted how I see the world and find joy in life.
It was important to me to find an illustrator for The Indian Dance Show that could bring to life the color, excitement, movement, and intricate details associated with each dance style described in the story. I truly could not have found a more incredible illustrator than Ekaterina Illina! I met Ekaterina through Upwork, where I searched through many illustrators’ portfolios. Ekaterina’s stunning illustrations stood out immediately. You can imagine how thrilled I was to hear that she loved Indian dance too!
We worked together very closely over the course of a year on every spread of the book and I gave detailed context to the Indian cultural elements that appear throughout. Ekaterina’s illustrations turned out absolutely gorgeous.
I hope young readers can appreciate how fun and beautiful Indian dance is! I also hope this book will pique people’s interest in learning more about India and South Asia in general. Maybe it will even inspire them to attend a real dance show.
5. What is next for you? Any more books we should be on the lookout for?
I had so much fun creating this book and I would love to work on more in the future. Cultural stories are especially interesting to me and it would be amazing to write more books that introduce children to our amazing world.