Sree is a feature length documentary about female empowerment through dance in the immigrant community within North America. Following the stories of four different women in different locations around North America, ‘Sree’ showcases how dance pulls these women away from their isolated and unhappy pasts when they first immigrated and pushes them to a fulfilling future.
People have been immigrating to North America in search of a better life for centuries. They struggle with personal issues and finding their place in a new country. Some ignore their heritage- whether it’s language, food or dance- because it doesn’t fit their new surroundings. But a few, embrace their past and meld it with their present, creating a new home for themselves and others.
The film focuses on four different immigrant women in North America, showing their personal struggles and how they use dance as a means to change themselves and the world around them.
The film’s narrative involves separate 20 minute character segments that detail the personal stories of four different female dancers. To add more visual interest and smoothly transition between stories, each woman is introduced by original artwork and their segment is associated with a season. Each woman shares their individual life story and showcases the dance that helped them change their lives.
Representing ‘Fall’, the first character, Ritu, comes to Canada as a young bride. Her marriage is fraught with emotional pain and when it ends, she’s alone. Unsure about herself and her future, Ritu returns to her first passion. Dance. Her passion for dance gets noticed, and she begins to teach Bollywood dance to anyone who is interested. With each class of students, she grows more confident in her new place. And with that confidence, she gives back to the community that she now calls home.
Jayshree, the second woman who represents ‘Winter’, is a trained Bharathanatyam dancer who comes to America. Though happily married, she’s unable to have children. After she adopts her children from India, she celebrates the adoption by using her dance skills to fund-raise for the orphanage her children came from. She melds her classical Indian dance skills to the tune of Western jazz music, bridging a connection from her past to her present home.
For ‘Spring’, we have Tijana and Mirjana. Tijana is the daughter of Mirjana. a first generation child of immigrant parents who came to Canada in the early 70’s for a better life from Serbia. She is passionate about keeping the tradition of Serbian folk dance like ‘Bosilegrad’ alive. Growing up, she was a folklore dancer in the Toronto community but now continues her dance passion through her daughter, a folklore dancer. She is part of a non-profit organization, created by the All Saints Serbian Orthodox Church, which aims to keep their dance heritage alive for future generations of their community.
Representing ‘Summer’ is Nicolina, a refugee from war-torn Bosnia, who is currently a member of classical and Latino American dance group. Due to the war in Bosnia, dancing for fun was one of the many things she lost. But when she came to her new home in Canada, she found the freedom to dance again and rediscovered many things about herself.
Through these four stories, the film shows that dance is more than just entertainment. Dance is both a source of comfort and healing as well as a powerful tool of empowerment.