Nachte Raho welcomes Stanford, Tufts, and more


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Perhaps the largest college dance competition in the Midwest, the 13th-annual Nachte Raho South Asian dance event will take place at 7 p.m.  Saturday in the IMU.

Hosted by the University of Iowa Indian Student Alliance, Nachte Raho — roughly translating to “keep on dancing” — pits nine teams against one another in three genres of Indian dance: Garba-Raas, Bhangra, and Bollywood Fusion.

Abhishek Dsouza, the president of the Indian Student Alliance, said that while Nachte Raho is a wonderful showcase for Indian and Indian-American dance, the main focus of the event is not cultural insight.

“It’s a competition [and] it’s really competitive,” Dsouza said. “We’ll have a mixer on Friday where … the teams are forced to be nice to each other, but from the start there’s rivalry. You want to win the prize money.”

A total of $5,500 will be awarded, including $1,000 to the winners in each three categories and $2,500 to the overall winner, as determined by three expert judges hailing from Iowa, Chicago, and New York. Scores are cast for everything from synchronization to costume design.

Dsouza said a new prize will be implemented this year: a $250 “people’s choice” award, giving the audience — which averages between 700 and 800 guests — the chance to support their favorite team.

Chosen from approximately 30 applicants, the nine teams selected to compete in Nachte Raho are some of the best in the country, including teams from Northwestern, Tufts, and Stanford universities.

Dsouza said these dancers represent a variety of ethnicities, and offer their own take on the genres.

“Each dance has a story,” Dsouza said. “The fact these 20- to 22-year-olds have such interest in this culture and have the talent they have is fun to see. It’s just something different.”

The UI’s own Indian dance troupe, Iowa Andhi, does not compete in Nachte Raho to avoid a conflict of interest, but it will perform on Saturday along with Deepali Phanse Bhagwat, a finalist on the show “Dance India Dance.”

The Indian Student Alliance’s next large-scale event will be held on April 11: the Gathe Raho a cappella singing competition, the first of its kind in the region, will host seven vocal teams from across the country and offer a grand prize of $3,000.

Nachte Raho
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: IMU Main Lounge
Admission: $10-$20

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