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Midwest Dhamaka returns for its second showdown

UC Asian American Association hosts eight Bollywood dance teams from across the country

by Marisa Whitaker
January 2013

Midwest Dhamaka, a Bollywood Fusion dance competition held in Cincinnati, returns for a second year after a sell-out show in 2012. The UC Asian American Association and campus Bollywood team, UC Dhadak, will host the competition on Feb. 16 that will feature eight collegiate Bollywood teams from across the nation.

The show, held downtown at the School of Creative and Performing Arts, will also showcase recording artists Culture Shock and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Chai-Town a cappella. The proceeds of the competition will be donated to Design Impact, a non-profit organization that focuses on bringing design attention to areas of social inequality.

“The competition was started as a cultural diversity initiative to promote the involvement of Asian American students in the UC community,” says Carlo Cruz, current dance team manager.

UC Dhadak is not formally competing in the Midwest Dhamaka due to “home turf” rules, but will be performing an exhibition act and acting as staff help for the evening. UC’s team is currently tied in points with Rutgers S.A.P.A for the final competition in New York.

Although Midwest Dhamaka is only in its second year, it was such a success last year that it received national recognition and became a part of the national competition circuit when it caught the attention of Bollywood America organizers, Cruz explains.
One of the eight teams competing for Champion of Midwest Dhamaka will move on after two rounds to compete further in other national competitions.

After round one the judges will choose the top three teams to move on to round two, and the audience will choose a fourth team to move on via text message voting. Organizers say this is the first Bollywood dance competition to use text message audience voting.

Spurred by dance influences of Hindi cinema, Bollywood dancing is a fusion of Hindi and Western dance styles. These films involved sporadic scenes of dance and often fused Hindi and English languages within the film.

Last year, the UC Bollywood team, UC Dhadak, placed fourth at Bollywood America. “UC has never experienced such a competition before and Midwest Dhamaka brings the rich culture and passion of dance to Cincinnati,” says Saloni Hemani, a junior special education major and current captain of UC Dhadak. Saloni has been with the team for three years. She started Indian cultural dancing at a very young age with her brother, Rohan Hemani, a senior at the Lindner College of Business, who formed UC Dhadak when he came to UC.

The goal of Midwest Dhamaka competition is not only about whose team is the best but also about spreading cultural awareness to students of UC, citizens of Cincinnati and everyone across the nation. “The competition hopes to inspire audience members and other students to pursue their passions and explore new ideas or cultures,” Cruz says.

Midwest Dhamaka takes place at The Corbett Theater at 4:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 16. Last year, the competition raised $3,000 for mPowering, a non-profit group that uses mobile technology to empower underprivileged individuals. The Corbett Theater is located in downtown Cincinnati at the School of Creative and Performing Arts on 108 W. Central Parkway.

Marisa Whitaker is a student intern with UC Magazine.

Additional images from 2012 Midwest Dhamaka

Photos courtesy of Laura Fisher, DAAP '11

Click any image to enlarge