Don’t expect to find a belly dancer at this year’s bhangra dance.
Instead, a competitive dance-off between four local university bhangra dance teams will replace the belly dancers that were once a staple of the International Living Center’s annual dance event.
“The last two years we’ve always done a fusion of bhangra and Middle Eastern style dancing, but this year it’s just bhangra,” said Ashley Lippolis, a member of the International Living Center and the head organizer of the event. “The style of dancing is one you can pick up really fast, and people are there to show you how to do it.”
Last year, the dance included a performance by the University of Virginia bhangra dance team, who demonstrated some of their more complicated moves to the audience.
This year’s bhangra dance is expected to not only feature competitive performances from the University of Maryland, William & Mary, George Washington University and George Mason University bhangra teams, but will also include a judging panel of three experienced bhangra dancers. There will also be authentic bhangra decorations and a pre-dance celebration of the Diwali religious holiday.
“It’s going to be really beautiful,” said Lippolis.
Fellow International Living Center member and event organizer Michelle Welcher is also excited about the program.
“We’ve done a lot of networking, getting judges and bhangra teams from other schools and that’s why the event is going to be a lot bigger and a lot more exciting,” said Welcher.
Bhangra is a traditional style of dance that originated in the Punjab province of India and Pakistan. Today, it is also considered a style of music and has quickly risen in popularity throughout the world.
The International Living Center has hired DJ Mosaic, who specializes in bhangra music, for this year’s event.
“He’s younger, he has a fresher sound with a lot of fusion,” said Lippolis.
In addition to providing UMW students with a fun, free activity, the International Living Center also hopes that the dance event will introduce students to Indian and Pakistani culture.
The event is part of the Asian Student Association’s Asian Cultural Week, which also includes the Taste of Asia celebration and is funded by the Association of Residence Halls and the Advisory Council on Diversity and Community Values.
“It brings culture to the school,” said fellow International Living Center and bhangra organizer Zareen Ismael.