REVIEW: dandia Dhamaka 2011

I must say that I have never set foot into a space with so much energy in my entire life.  The moment I walked into the Michigan Theatre for dandia Dhamaka 2011 I knew I was in for something special.  Hundreds of audience members stood in the lobby wishing their friends and family members the best of luck for the competition ahead.  Fans from each respective school orchestrated these interactions, as they donned their school’s colors and chanted their fight songs from the grand staircase in the lobby of the theatre.  The only situation of worthy comparison is State street on a football Saturday, pure madness.

As I waited in my seat for the show to start, I could not help but notice the dazzling costumes of each competing team.  They were absolutely stunning.  Not only were the costumes authentic in nature, but they sparkled like nothing I have ever seen before… and I mean literally sparkled.  I couldn’t wait to see what they looked like under the stage lighting.

The show opened with a video introducing each competing team.  The great thing about this competition was its positive atmosphere.  I never heard one negative comment from any of the teams, never any booing or cackling.  Each team was extremely respectful and potentially overly supportive of the other.  The positive energy in the room was inspiring.

The first team to take the stage was Georgia Institute of Technology, and I was completely blown away.  I have never seen so much energy and enthusiasm in a performance group.  Each and every member of that team was completely dedicated to what they were doing, and they made the audience believe it.  These kids were not faking anything.

And the costumes…. Whoa the costumes!  I mentioned earlier that I was excited to see the effect of stage lighting, and I was not disappointed.  As the dancers spun around, changing formations and the like, their costumes shimmered like nothing I had ever seen before.  It looked as if an arsenal of fireworks were being set off on stage.  Arguably one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.  I feel as if I’m being overly dramatic about this experience, but my thoughts are completely genuine.  The show was filled with so many beautiful performances.  As time went on it was difficult to differentiate each team’s performance, as they started running together.  Regardless, the experience was unlike anything I could have imagined.

At the end of the night, Rutgers University took home first place, followed by the University of Michigan and Michigan State University.  Unfortunately I cannot comment on the validity in these placements, as each performance was beyond incredible to my eye.  I highly recommend dandia Dhamaka 2012 to anyone who is in the Ann Arbor Area next year.  Not only is it a cultural and educational experience, but it is just too much fun!

PREVIEW: dandia Dhamaka 2011

Today, the University of Michigan Raas Association will host their 10th annual intercollegiate raas competition, coined dandia Dhamaka. According to the dandia Dhamaka website, this competition marks the birth of intercollegiate raas competition in the United States. While similar competitions continue to be created across the country, dandia Dhamaka remains the oldest and largest of its kind.

Dandia Dhamaka will showcase the South Asian traditional dance form of raas. I’ve seen a few performances by the Michigan Raas team and their energy is unlike anything I’ve seen out of a student performance group. The show will feature 10 of the best raas teams from around the country. This year, the 10 competing teams will be Georgia Institute of Technology, Loyola University Chicago, Michigan State University, Purdue University, Rutgers University, St. Louis University, University of Chicago, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, University of Texas at Austin and of course the University of Michigan, who took 2nd place at last year’s competition.

Be sure to check out this incredible cultural event!

Venue: The Michigan Theatre
Date: Saturday, January 29th
Time: 6:30pm
Tickets: Main Floor – $18
Balcony – $14

Catch you at the show!