Students hope Bhangra beat will catch

Dance group would compete to traditional and modern Indian music

Amola Trivedi and Arti Shah want to start a Bhangra dance competition on campus, but first they need dancers.

"We've known that we wanted to start this for a year or two," said Shah, a junior in the School of Public Affairs. "There weren't many people to join before because of time commitments."

Bhangra incorporates Punjab culture from northern India by integrating rhythmic music with high-energy Indian dancing. Students who are unfamiliar with Indian music can recognize its elements in today's hip-hop music, said Trivedi, a sophomore in the School of International Service.

Shah said that students are most likely to get into the music because it has a "really strong beat."

Both women have been dancing for several years. Trivedi currently teaches Indian dance at a school in Bethesda, Md., and Shah works as a teaching assistant. Both work together to teach their students and will have no trouble helping those on campus who are interested to learn more about Bhangra, Trivdei said.

Shah and Trivedi began work to start a dance team about a month ago. One of the main reasons to start this was to compete with other schools in D.C., Trivedi said.

"So many other schools have Bhangra teams, we felt that it was something AU was ready for," Trivedi said.

There are many competitions in D.C. and nationwide, including George Washington University's Bhangra Blowout every April. College Bhangra teams from all over the nation come to the university, according to Trivedi.

The dances are based on traditional and modern music mixes, and major Indian pop singers also attend, she said.

"It's a huge competition and thousands of people come," Trivedi said. She added that teams are required to send in tapes, choreograph dances and perform.

Although Trivedi and Shah would like to host a competition as big as the one at GW, they would first like to be competitors. They also would like to hold cultural shows on campus, Trivedi said.

"I believe [AU] will be more unified," Trivedi said. "Right now, AU isn't united at any cultural events. There isn't a big diverse crowd that comes out to the cultural shows."

Shah said that that the team isn't only open to Indian students but to anyone, including law and graduate students.

"I'm predicting that more than half of the team won't be from South Asia ... because we don't have a very big population [of students from there on campus]," Trivedi said.

The first of three auditions was held last night to prepare for AU's first-ever Bhangra team. Trivedi and Shah said they hope to have about 20 people for the team with backup, and want to make the team an official club next semester.

"We don't want to hold any bias, we're going to start everyone out on the same level," Trivedi said, adding that she and Shah will teach the team routines.

Open auditions will be held in the Butler Instructional Center in Room 104 on Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m. and Friday from 6 to 8 p.m.

Never miss a story

Get our weekly newsletter delivered right to your inbox.

More from The Eagle

Would you like to support our work? Donate here to The Eagle Innovation Fund.