Spotlight on Indian dance


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The art of dance has taken many forms in the United States, from the Charleston and the Mashed Potato to the Cabbage Patch and even the Twerk craze of today. Of course, dance is not only a defining characteristic in American pop culture but around the world — especially in India.

On  Saturday, in an exploration of four types of Indian dance, the Indian Student Alliance will host the seventh-annual Garba, Raas, Bhanga, Bollywood Festival. The event will take place in the IMU Second-Floor Ballroom from 8-10 p.m.

Parimal Patel, a member of the festival committee, said the festival has the capability to positively affect all who choose to participate.

“Dance is something that everyone can enjoy, and that really is the goal of most events: to make sure everyone will enjoy them,” he said. 

The festival will be separated into three parts. The first segment will be focused on learning the techniques of Garba, Raas, Bhanga, and Bollywood dance. The second will be a buffet of free Indian food, and the night will be wrapped up with a party for all to exhibit their new dance skills and commemorate the night in a free photo booth. 

Garba, Raas, Bhanga, Bollywood committee head Samiksha Annira said the four dances are very different.

“In Garba, a group of people generally dance in a big circle while repeating a specific foot pattern,”she said. “Raas is somewhat of a partner dance, also done in a circle, in which partners dance with sticks and hit their opposing person’s sticks in rhythm with the music and go around in a circle changing partners throughout.  “Bhangra incorporates lots of shoulder movement, jumping, and legwork.  Bollywood is very casual and usually incorporates elements from traditional dance styles and from choreography within Bollywood movies.”

Though each of these dances originated in different parts of India, all of the styles are danced throughout the country, Patel said. Vice President of marketing for the Indian Student Alliance Sanjana Pandya said dance plays a very prominent role in the Indian culture and is often performed in times of celebration and religion.

“Dance can show the history of India and can tell the stories passed on for years,” she said. 

In addition to dancing the night away, the  festival also offers members of the Iowa City community a chance to gain a deeper understanding of the Indian culture.

“It is very important to learn about different cultures, because it not only expands individual horizons, but collectively educates students and makes them more worldly aware,” Pandya said. 

In the past, the festival has attracted more than 200 participants, exposing people to traditional Indian clothing, authentic food, and upbeat music. Patel hopes this year’s festival will be the group’s most successful to date.

“I am beyond excited for this event, enough so to make my parents, who live four hours away, come,” he said. “It’s lot of fun for everyone, and a great may to meet others and socialize. I love my culture, and I love sharing it with others even more so.”  

Garba, Raas, Bhanga, Bollywood Festival
When: 8-10 p.m. Saturday 
Where: IMU Second-Floor Ballroom 
Admission: Free 

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