Koyali Burman: Bringing storytelling through dance and community work

Koyali Burman, a Kathak dancer performing an impromptu dance about the Vancouver weather


Koyali Burman’s living space is light and clean when you first enter the corridors.

Her home hangs a few artworks on the walls such as colourful Indian dance portraits.

Burman’s a kind hostess providing cups of chai tea, samosas and cheesecakes. She apologizes for not cooking.

Burman said this kind of hospitality is nothing and when you go to any Indian family homes, they go all out with their food fare.

“I like providing snacks and treats for my guests when they come over to my place,” Burman said.

Burman works for communities at large in Vancouver which includes a welcoming event for Syrian refugees, featured in The Voice.

Burman also happens to be a professionally trained dancer in Kathak, one of the eight forms of classical Indian dancing.

The word Kathak is a North Indian dance that derives from the Sanskrit word of katha, which means story.

Burman explains how she began getting into dance.

“So I was a little girl and my mom especially, she was very interested in teaching me dance because she got to see probably some of my interest when (I was a child) moving hands, like being very rhythmic as soon as any music is around,” Burman said.

Burman’s work with Vancouver communities also led her to do international community development projects with organizations like the United Nations-Commonwealth.

She mentions about her travels to conference work with the UN, led her to places such as South Africa to Sri Lanka.

Burman says her involvement with community work began while she in school studying in Vancouver.

“Even at UBC, I see community there. Because when I came (to) UBC, not a single person I knew in Vancouver. I was just there by myself.”

Despite her professional life has been more of a focus this past year, Burman points out she doesn’t separate her dance background from her community work.

“I like to balance both, I would say that. And definitely through my dance I can come in touch with a very diverse community and through my work as well,” Burman said.


3 Comments Add yours

  1. ncphernandez says:

    Hey Linda,

    This is a very fascinating profile on Koyali. You have a good balance between explaining Koyali and describing her dance in community centres.

    My only complaint is that there should be a paragraph explaining Koyali’s history of dancing. Even though she had a quote about her mom teaching her how to dance, I wish you could’ve shared her past achievements. It’s not a big deal, because you can only put so much in 500 words or less.

    Your use of quotes is very good, because it adds more character to Koyali. Your story structure is great, you explained Koyali’s dancing very well, and you end the profile with a good callout quote.

  2. Hey Linda, great piece. You really captured how important culture is to Koyali. I’d see more about her talk more about dance, maybe she can be descriptive about how she feels when she dances. Other then that great job!

  3. Linda,

    Good profile piece. You did a great job at “setting the scene” early on with your writing. The way you described Koyali’s house really took me there. I realize that you are under a word-limit, but I would focus on more efficiently utilizing your space to talk about Koyali’s history & dance.

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