Andaaz dance team hosts Bhangra workshop

ASU students learn Bhangra, an Indian fusion dance style

“Act like you own the stage,” Saager Buch one of the head captains of the ASU competitive Bollywood fusion dance team, ASU Andaaz, says. “The footwork is harder than the hands.”

Buch, a senior majoring in economics and global studies, was teaching a gym full of people eager to learn Bhangra, a dance style that combines Western music and traditional dance from the northern Indian state of Punjab. 

He led the Bhangra workshop held by the dance team Saturday morning at the Sun Devil Fitness Complex in Tempe. 

“This dance style is one of the most difficult for stars to learn, but also one of the most fun in my opinion,” Buch said. 

The Bhangra workshop on Sept. 29 was the first in a series of workshops Andaaz plans to have throughout the semester. Many of those who attended the workshop were members of the dance team themselves. 

“The workshop was an idea we planned over the summer for a couple of reasons,” Nikki Naik, a co-captain of Andaaz and senior studying journalism, said. 

The workshop was organized to be a way for Andaaz dancers to get extra practice and also be an easy and fun fundraiser for them, according to Naik.

“We put all our earnings towards props, costumes, set and competition registration fees, so we're always looking for a good way to raise money,” Naik says. 

Naik says the workshop was also organized because many people expressed interest in taking classes to learn different styles rather than being on the competitive team.

“It's the way to get ASU and general community members to dive into different dance styles,” Naik says.

ASU Andaaz held a workshop on Bhangra, a dance style that combines Western music and traditional dance from the northern Indian state of Punjab, on Sept. 29, 2017 at the Sun Devil Fitness Complex in Tempe.

Competitions are the main focus of Andaaz. They typically travel up to five competitions per year across the nation. Each competition is held at a university and eight to 12 teams from all around the nation go there to compete. In order to get into the competition, each dance team needs to submit an audition video highlighting parts of their dance, according to co-head captain Bhavna Ramesh, a junior majoring in biomedical engineering. 

Andaaz won first place at Infusion 2015 and placed in the top three at a few other competitions in the 2014-15 year, Ramesh says.

Andaaz is currently preparing for this year’s first competition coming up on Nov. 18.  

“Usually with our routine we perform an 8-minute routine that depicts a story of sorts,” Ramesh says. “But for this competition, called Jhalak, we will only be performing a 5-minute routine with straight dance. No dialogue or costume changes or backdrop.” 

The members of the dance team typically pay out of their own pocket for flight tickets, competition registration fees and any other associated costs, but the ASU Sports Club has helped by reimbursing promotional materials that they use during Passport to ASU at the beginning of the year, according to Ramesh. 

In the past, their fundraisers have consisted of pairing up with a popular restaurant like Chipotle and having a small portion of proceeds made there in any given night sent to Andaaz.

“We are definitely increasing the variety in fundraisers that we do this year since the past few years weren't as fundraising-heavy," Ramesh says.

While many of the students who showed up were already a part of Andaaz, some ASU alumni also showed up to participate in the Bhangra workshop. 

Jay Patel is an ASU alumnus who graduated in 2013 after studying biochemistry.

“The Bhangra event was awesome,” Patel said. “It was a great turnout and they taught at a pace where everyone could learn.” 

The dance team plans to host many more workshops over the semester with different styles of dance taught in each session. 

For more information about Andaaz, follow @asuandaaz on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

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