The Indian American Association (IAA) brought Holi to campus through an annual dance competition.
Saturday night in Cox Auditorium, IAA hosted the annual Raang Se Naachle Holi Show, a collegiate dance competition to celebrate Holi, an Indian and Nepali spring festival that shows love and unity through colors and community.
The show opened with freshmen in IAA walking up to the stage with candles and performing a short dance, welcoming the audience to the show. Then, the executive board of IAA gave an additional welcome, thanked those who contributed to the show and presented a video and skit representative of the theme for the night: The hit TV show “Friends.”
Most of the dance performances had a blend of traditional and contemporary Indian and Western music and dance movements. ATL Insaafi, a nationally competitive co-ed Bollywood fusion dance team from Atlanta, featured songs like Ariana Grande’s “Focus” and contemporary Indian music in their performance. UT groups VOLtage and Mayuri also featured blends of old and new in their performances with fusions of South Asian and Western dance and music, including J Balvin and Willy William’s “Mi Gente.”
While some teams showed more of the contemporary side, others like Hurricane Bangra, Classic City Bhangra and Emory Karma Bhangra focused more on traditional Indian dances, performed in traditional formal attire and utilizing saps — which make a clapping sound — and colored wooden koondas, both of which are props specific to the Bhangra style of dancing.
Some teams added a storyline to their performances. UAB Rangeela’s performance depicted the relationship between a young girl and her grandmother as a message to youth to preserve relationships with the older generations. Champa and Chameli, an all-female group from the University of Georgia (UGA), gave their dance a Kim Possible theme, while USC Moksha gave a Freaky Friday performance.
Georgia Saazish, an all-boy group from UGA, took first place in the competition for their performance, which had a haunted house theme.
While none of the UT teams competed, co-captains of the Mayuri dance team Ojee Sharma, sophomore in neuroscience, and Sanjana Senapati, freshman in neuroscience, said they hope for their dance team to join the competition next year.
“I think it was really interesting to see all the teams perform and compete,” Sharma said. “I think it’s a really good experience for our team to learn about other teams and how they use their techniques and learn about how they perform as a team.”
While the show served as a collegiate dance competition, families and friends traveled from all over to celebrate Holi throughout the show.
Dineel Patel, freshman in microbiology, came to support his friends in VOLtage and Mayuri. Patel felt that the show effectively showed the Indian American culture on campus.
“I feel like it represents the variety we are, how diverse we are and how we are still tied to our roots,” Patel said.
Sharma believes American Indian culture is derived from the diversity of influences from both Western culture and Asia.
“I think it shows a really good image of the American Indian culture because we’re not just exclusive to South Asian culture; as you’ve seen, in all the teams there are non-South Asian men and women dancing,” Sharma said. “We also use Western influences of song and dance as well, so what I think is really intriguing is that our culture is very inclusive and includes everyone.”
Senapati said many people don't realize the influence that South Asia has had on dance and that the show’s blend of Western and South Asian cultures effectively represents the Indian American culture.
“I just think that so many of the teams include fusion of Southern dance that they maybe didn’t know it originated from South Asia,” Senapati said. “It’s really cool to see how they can mesh it all together and make one cohesive piece of dance.”