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Case Bhangra team looks to have another great year

Gillian Seaman

Issue date: 10/10/08 Section: Focus
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Case Western Reserve University's co-ed Spartan Bhangra team has achieved much since its inception just over a year ago in the summer of June 2007. Already, the modern-traditional team has claimed first place in the Desi Hungama in Syracuse, N.Y. The team kicked off the beginning of this year with a first-place finish at The Spot's So You Think You Can Dance competition.
Bhangra, an Indian Punjabi style of dance, has steadily risen in popularity in the United States over the past few years. The dance is widely popular is South Asia and, unsurprisingly, an intensely competitive scene has developed. While in recent years Bhangra has been infused with such "modern" elements like hip-hop, there has been a trend toward reverting back to more traditionally focused dance. The United States Bhangra competitive college circuit is roughly divided into two halves: modern and traditional.
Kinnell Shah, the group's founder refers to his theme for this year's squad as "modern-traditional." Shah has great confidence in his team and states that his goal for this year is to, "show the Bhangra circuit that Spartan Bhangra has what it takes to be succesful and unique at competitions this year and that greatness comes in all sizes."
Shah's goals are particularly lofty when one takes into account the budget constraints placed upon the Bhangra squad. In Bhangra competitions, authentic costumes and props are often beneficial to the overall judging of the event. Splitting a budget with other organizations like Raas and Fusion limits the Spartan group to not only what costoms they can purchase, but also what competitions they can participate in.
In addition to budget limitations, the Spartans must also cope with the fact that they are a relatively young team. Many of the prestigious Bhangra competitions require an audition tape and a list of credentials in order to secure a spot.
It is unlikely that the Spartans will let such issues stand in their way. The team practices an impressive two-three hours three days a week, along with a mandatory two-mile run. The Spartans' intense work ethic will undoubtedly be beneficial in future competitions.
However, the Bhangra squad does not exist merely for competitive purposes. The six men and six women on the team performed in five on-campus events last year: UPB's Passport around the World, uISA Cultural Show, PSA Cultural Show, AAA Cultural Show, and Extravadance. Those performances are designed to exhibit Bhangra as an art form and introduce students to an important aspect of South Asian culture.
The Spartan Bhangra team's first on-campus performance will be Nov. 22.
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