One of the best outcomes of a cultural exchange is when the person on the visiting end has their stereotypes shattered.

“Before I visited India, I had this image that everyone in India loves dancing,” recalls Hiromi Maruhashi, who moved to the country to study when she was 24. “But, only after I got there did I realize that not everyone likes or learns classical dance. It’s a minority, and I became one of them.”

Maruhashi, now 55, is an expert in Mohiniyattam dance, one of the recognized classical dances of India. It was developed in the southern state of Kerala, which is also referred to as “God’s own country,” and remains popular there to this day. Traditionally, the dance is performed solo by women and requires extensive training.