At the first competitions of the season earlier this month, two Purdue Bollywood dance teams came away with ranked spots.
Purdue Kahaani, a competitive fusion dance team that focuses on different styles, won third place and Purdue Raas, a nationally competitive team, won first place.
History of Purdue
Among Purdue's other Bollywood dance teams, Kahaani is one of the youngest. This is their second year and they placed third in their first competition of the year.
“We were especially nervous because there is a lot of good competition,” said captain Ashika Kamisetty. All teams have been established for six to 10 years and were a sophomore team that didn't place last year.
Although they are a newer team, the captains believe in their dancers who constantly give their all.
I have a lot of confidence in our team itself because we have worked very hard and every dancer on the team puts in 100%, Kamisetty said.
The team didn't expect to place, so they were thrilled when their name was called by the competition judges.
Don't let the moment be bigger than you, be bigger than the moment, captain Rudra Phalnikar said, was the message they gave to the team before their performance.
The team holds calls at the beginning of each fall to recruit new members. After the tryouts, they choose the most qualified students to join the team. The majority of people who join are freshmen.
This year we welcomed about 20 new dancers, Kamisetty said.
The team is a close-knit group of people who are very close to each other, especially during the second semester.
The first semester is so hands-on that we don't really have a lot of time to get closer to each other, Kamisetty said. But competitions bring teams closer together.
The team has their next competition in two weeks in Ohio and they hope to place even higher.
It was better than I thought, said first-year dancer Venya Bhardwaj. I didn't have much hope, but it was great fun.
Dancers from other teams wished them luck, as did those from Purdue Raas.
Purdue Raas is a nationally competitive dance team. They placed first in their first competition of the season, Raas Royalty, at Indiana University.
Raas Royalty hosts eight university Garba dance teams from across the country.
The 14-member team was excited to return to competition after winning the national championships last year.
“We made it to nationals two years in a row, so it was a fun way to kick off our competitive season,” said data science senior Anuj Thakkar.
Thakkar graduated in December 2023, but the competition reminded him why he joined the team in the first place.
Dancing is something I've never done in my life, but being able to find a passion and a group of people you can always count on is the main reason I really wanted to join, he said.
Raas has been a club at Purdue since 2008.
2008 was the first year the team reached the national championships, but after that we didn't make it to the national championships until 2021, said Aditi Shah, a psychological science student. We made it to nationals again last year, and I hope we can do that this year. This is my goal every season.
The team still has high aspirations, even if not every dancer is 100%.
“It’s my first time dancing,” said Queena Munzani, junior board member in visual communications design. I've been injured for the last two years, so this is my first time on stage.
Raas is a competitive team, but they know they always support each other.
While the thrill of success is memorable, the feeling of community and support is something members will carry beyond the competition phase.
We were a competitive team, but even on stage or off, we were still like family, Munzani said. That's why dancing is so special to many of us, because it's not like we're all competing all the time.
Training takes place three times a week for three hours. This year was the first time the team did spring recruiting due to the large number of graduating seniors.