UVA Today student writer Kate Colwell reports:
Twice in one night the fan section from U.Va. went crazy in the College of William & Mary’s Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall. Last weekend, U.Va. brought home not one, but two trophies and $1,000 apiece from the first Nach Ke Dikha dance competition.
The competition, part of a “Voices of South Asia” conference hosted by William & Mary’s South Asian Student Association, pitted six college teams against each other in two categories – Bhangra and Fusion dance – along with three non-competitive exhibition acts. Routines were generally about eight minutes long.
The event coordinators aimed to provide “a unique competition that increases cultural awareness and serves as entertainment for VOSA attendees, the William & Mary and Williamsburg community, and South Asian dance fanatics across the East Coast,” according to the event’s Web page.
UVA Sharaara, an all-female fusion team celebrating its 10th year, beat rivals from Carnegie Mellon University and University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill with almost straight scores of nine and 10 (on a 10-point scale) in the categories of choreography and creativity, execution, dhamaka (energy), nakhra (attitude and stage presence) and showmanship.
As a fusion team, they incorporate many styles of dance, including Bharatanatyam, a type of Indian classical dance, Bollywood and contemporary. This year they also unleashed a secret weapon – a step segment which drove the audience into a frenzy.
Priyanka Salona, a fourth-year student majoring in cognitive science in the College of Arts & Sciences with a double concentration in neuroscience and cognitive psychology, is co-captain of Sharaara. She said the team’s cleanliness, complicated stunts and incorporation of their theme into the dance all caught judges’ attention.
Each year Sharaara comes up with a new theme, and this year they chose Peter Pan. With five of the 15 team members approaching graduation in a month, Salona said the team wanted to do “something that was relevant to what a lot of us are facing – the real world – and also enjoyable.”
The group brought a dramatic flair to the routine by enlisting the help of friends to play the parts of a swashbuckling Captain Hook, Peter Pan and Tinkerbell on stage.
UVA Di Shaan, the Bhangra group which has existed at U.Va. for 12 years, topped teams from George Washington University and Carnegie Mellon University.
Neesurg Mehta is a fourth-year student in the Curry School of Education pursuing a degree in kinesiology and co-captain of Di Shaan. Mehta said his team’s routine this semester adopted a sort of back-to-basics, high-energy approach to traditional and folk dance moves. He said the team members, who concentrate on synchronization, grace, facial expressions and execution of moves, felt very good about the cleanliness of their performance.
Salona expressed enthusiasm for both team’s outcomes against tough competitors who gave strong performances.
“Di Shaan performed really well and a U.Va. sweep is pretty awesome,” she said. “I think the team is proud of what we’ve done so far. We’re looking forward to next year and are excited to see what the team comes up with next.”
Mehta said the conference’s pop culture theme addressed stereotypes and racism of South Asians in society. The discussions allowed participants to reflect on how preconceived notions influence portrayals of South Indians, such as the use of Indian accents in comedy, and how these notions affect the lives of Indian-Americans young and old.
Both teams will perform at Old Dominion University’s Taste of India competition April 22. To see Sharaara, Di Shaan and other groups in action, consider attending India Student Association‘s end-of-the-year performance extravaganza, India Day Live 2012, on April 14 from 5 to 8 p.m. The event takes place in Martin Luther King Performing Arts Center at Charlottesville High School. A shuttle service from the U.Va. Chapel to the event will begin at 3 p.m. and free food will be provided after the show.
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