Hancher to host 18th annual Nachte Raho dance competition

This Saturday, eight Bollywood fusion dance teams will come to Iowa City for the 18th annual Nachte Raho competition.


Naomi Hofferber, Senior Reporter

A Bollywood fusion battle is set to begin at Hancher this weekend, at the 18th-annual Nachte Raho dance competition. The University of Iowa will host the national dance competition Saturday evening at 6:30 p.m., where eight teams from around the nation will compete for the grand prize of $3,000.

Teams from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Cincinnati, Ohio State, University of Minnesota, NYU, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Penn State, and University of Missouri-Kansas City will offer a variety of dance routines within the Bollywood-fusion style.

Madhuri Belkale, UI’s Indian Student Alliance’s VP of Community Outreach, said that the routines are usually themed, describing it as, “similar to show choir, but make it Bollywood.”

“For people living in Iowa City, this is honestly a once a year opportunity to see incredible Bollywood dancing, amazing talent, and just really witness all the hard work that so many people put into this event,” she said. “It’s really one of a kind for the whole state.”

Modern Bollywood dance style is made up of a combination of traditional and contemporary Indian styles. Despite the label of Bollywood, however, Afraaz Zariwala, the manager for Ohio State team OSU Genesis, said that the dance styles they compete with encompasses far more than what might be expected.

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“The circuit itself is Bollywood fusion, so that really means anything. I honestly hate the term Bollywood fusion because that implies it’s only Bollywood, but it’s really anything,” he said. “We’ve done Spanish music, we’ve done American music, we’ve done Indian music, Punjabi music… really whatever floats our boat at the time.”

Zariwala said that while many of the moves are traditional, the group puts a modern twist on them through particular song mixes and formations. This year, OSU Genesis is competing with an Avatar: The Last Airbender routine.

“I think what really makes us stand out and makes us different from other teams is just like the joy that you get from watching our set,” he said. “When the judge or someone’s able to tell you, ‘I just put down my clipboard or whatever I was doing when I was watching you guys and I just wanted to watch you the whole time and I didn’t want to miss anything’… that means the most.”

Maddie Smith, one of the captains for University of Cincinnati team UC Dhadak, said that their group is primarily self-taught, and are known for their hip-hop style.

“A lot of people think, you know, most of the members on our team grew up dancing, but we’re very much self-taught,” she said. “A few people will be trained to here and there in a style but as a whole, our team always starts off kind of, you know, kind of starts off from scratch each season.”

UC Dhadak is also competing with an Avatar: The Last Airbender theme, using the four elements as inspiration for each number.

“When I think of Avatar:The Last Airbender, I think about a bunch of little warriors,” she said. “That’s what I’ve always considered this team to be comprised of as a bunch of little warriors. Because up until this season, we’ve definitely been known as the underdog team in the circuit.”