It was called Ki Masti–or “fun” in Hindi– and that night, Athens was Ki Masti. The fun came in the form of Bollywood, as a one-night dance competition featuring teams from around the country.
Athens Ki Masti was the theme of this year’s UGA India Night, the signature event for UGA’s India Cultural Exchange (ICE). India Night competitors were part of the fun but the stakes were high–a trip to a national Bollywood competition was on the line. These teams were judged on their use of traditional Indian dance and their ability to mix their routines with contemporary dance styles.
The night was fun, but with a serious side. Besides the ever present sense of competition, this year’s India Night was raised money for mental health awareness. This and many other elements of the show to create more fun, thought provoking moments than could be rated by the competitor’s final order of finish.
Moments that stole the show
Mason Ke Rang, a fusion team from George Mason University had the least appreciated routine from the judges. The coed team’s theme was about the search to find the perfect routine. They toyed with the ideas of love in one act, and then in the second act pursued the theme of death.
They ended the routine by deciding that the most important thing was that they enjoyed competing. Besides the typical technical difficulty of routines, Mason Ke Rang’s theme was one that could have been hard to pull off. From the audience perspective, the team played it perfectly–even if it didn’t earn a spot in the top 3.
Between performances, skits and exhibitions that weren’t in the running for first place delighted the audience. Before any teams took the stage, the night started with a medley sung by UGA’s Kalakaar accapella group. Below is a clip from that performance:
UGA’s Bollywood Fusion and Bhangra teams performed during the evening, but were not competing. UGA Talwar, the schools’ Bhangra group showed a more traditional style of dance which the audience found just as entertaining.
A hush fell over the crowd when UGA ICE presented mental health awareness as their philanthropy for this year. A video made by UGA ICE advocating for people to speak up about their mental health was shown to the audience. UGA Active Minds partnered with UGA ICE for this event, raising money towards bringing the Send Silence Packing tour to the university.
Credit where credit is due
Buckeye Fusion, an all girl team from Ohio State University, was the winner at this year’s UGA India Night, and the audience seemed to agree with the result. ((Says you?)) The theme of Little Red Riding Hood not only made for a visually interesting performance, but the team developed the story well throughout the dance. They even added a twist on the tale’s traditional ending–that Red’s grandmother is the villain.
During the intermission, Buckeye Fusion was all anyone could talk about. As people discussed their favorite teams, “the little red riding hood one” was listed again and again.
For the judges, it was the team’s use of ballet elements that set them apart. While other teams used hip-hop style for their contemporary elements, Buckeye Fusion opted for ballet movements to compliment their fairy tale theme. Their win at UGA India Night earned the team a bid to the Legends Bollywood Dance Championship in Los Angeles.
Tensions run high between competitors during judges’ deliberation periods. But as the teams stood together on the stage hoping to hear their team’s name called by the judges that night, they began an impromptu dance party. After dancing against each other all night, members from competing teams came together to dance with each other.
By the time Buckeye Fusion was announced as the winner, any tension had melted away and the teams congratulated each other as friends rather than competitors.
Performances from India Night can be found here in two parts.