WFY Today

Indian dance competitions promote new cultural connections

On a bitterly cold Tuesday night, the Georgia Saazish dance team is practicing formations in the lobby of the Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Georgia. The lighting is dim, the glass doors double as mirrors, and the dancers slap their feet against a cold, unforgiving concrete floor as they practice their routine.

The lobby isn’t ideal for practicing, but students don’t have access to a university dance studio. With their first spring season performance coming up soon at UGA India Night, they must make do.

Saazish is one of the state’s premier collegiate Bollywood fusion dance teams, having finished third in the national competition last year, a fact that the rest of the UGA community is likely unaware of.

They provide an opportunity for people of Indian heritage growing up in America to connect with their culture. That connection is demonstrated as teams collaborate to present elaborate dance sets that incorporate costumes, props, music, choreography, lighting, and sound to tell a traditional Indian story.

The thing about culture is that you can always find something to appreciate if you look for it. In today’s world, where people are easily offended or repulsed, it is appropriate for governments to take the initiative to bring their citizens together through culture.

Harinder Sidhu, Australia’s High Commissioner to India, recently announced a six-month festival of arts, culture, food, sports, literature, and science. It is called Australia Fest and will run until March 30, 2019, with 75 events taking place in 20 cities across India.

Sidhu states, “It has long been my belief that human connections will be the defining feature of the Australia-India relationship. With Australia Fest, we hope to deepen engagement between our two countries and strengthen people-to-people ties.”

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