A diverse group of performers at UC finds success with an eclectic style of dance | Arts & Culture
Story, photo and video by Carlo CruzThey come from a variety of backgrounds and cultures. They are French and finance majors, hip-hop and classically trained dancers. Their common bond: A love for Bollywood Fusion, an expressive and increasingly popular form of dance in the United States. UC Dhadak at the University of Cincinnati is one of nation’s most diverse Bollywood-Fusion dance teams. It also is becoming one of its most successful ones. The team, founded in 2008, recently placed fourth in a national championship on the Bollywood Fusion dance circuit.
Bollywood Fusion mixes Bollywood dance, performed in India’s popular Bollywood films, with a number of Western elements. Genres include hip hop, classical, salsa, bhangra (form of Indian dance), and raas (form of Indian dance with sticks).
Once primarily a monocultural membership, UC Dhadak now comprises 10 non-South Asian students and five South Asian American students. They practice nearly 15 hours a week during the competitive season.
Rohan Hemani founded UC Dhadak four years ago with a group of enthusiastic friends sharing a passion for South Asian dance. In addition to improving the team’s diversity, Hemani and co-captain Sarah Izor have introduced new audio, video and costume committees that have helped carry the group to success.
After two years of small local performances and fruitless forays on the competitive circuit, the team saw its fortunes change during the 2011-2012 season.
The Bollywood-Fusion dance circuit holds two annual national championship competitions – the Best of the Best and Bollywood America. Before 2011, UC Dhadak did not have a victory at the national level. In 2011-2012, the team captured a victory at an Atlanta-based competition, A-Town Showdown, to earn a bid to not only the Best of the Best competition, but also Bollywood America. After months of preparation, UC Dhadak placed fourth out of 10 teams at Bollywood America in Philadelphia. The goal of achieving a national ranking that seemed improbable a year ago had become a reality.
Carlo Cruz is a student at the University of Cincinnati and on the staff of the department’s New Media Bureau.