UT Bollywood fusion team Mohini prepares for competition season with boot camps

Trisha Dasgupta, Senior Life&Arts Reporter

Winter break promises a long reprieve from work, full of relaxation and lounging, but that’s not the case for members of the Mohini dance team, who spent the week before spring classes in dance boot camp, training ahead of competition season. 

Mohini, an all-female Bollywood fusion dance team at UT, will compete in three competitions across the country this year. In order to prepare, members returned to campus early, not only dancing, but also choreographing and designing costumes.

“We spend a week before the spring semester starts getting all of that together — choreography, productions, everything,” neuroscience freshman Suhani Gajera said. “That started on Wednesday for us and it goes until Sunday, from 9 a.m. to around 6 p.m. and even 8 or 9 (p.m.).”

With long hours and tiring choreography, the boot camp can feel draining, corporate communication freshman Aarya Nair said.

“It is a lot of time dancing, so you get really sore, and you don’t really have a lot of time to recover,” Nair said. “If you’re not dancing, you’re working on productions for the set. It’s just difficult not stopping (and) working towards it. But at the end of the day, each little thing has such a big impact.”

Tasked with coming up with their own choreography, the team spends days solidifying their routine in a gradual process, said computer science freshman Rhea Shah.

“The first couple of days, you’re just kind of looking at TikToks,” Shah said.  “We’ll go look at past dance groups that we like and watch it for inspiration. We don’t have anything to show for it at first, but I think after a few days of gathering inspiration everything comes together.”

Bollywood fusion dance melds various types of dancing, including Bhangra, hip-hop, Indian classical and Indian contemporary. During boot camp, members explore new styles and grow in their abilities. 

“By joining a Bollywood fusion dance team, I’m able to work on completely different styles from what I’m used to,” Nair said. “Today, I was working on a contemporary piece, which is something I literally never thought I would be doing. I can do hip-hop now, which I didn’t even know that I could. Honestly, it’s just taught me so much about the different styles of dance.”

Beyond training, the boot camp also provides members time to get to know each other, make memories and develop relationships, Nair said.

“Since the dorms aren’t open during the break, we have to live at the upperclassmen’s apartments,” Gajera said. “Boot camp is where a lot of team bonding happens. This was when I actually found out so much more about our other members.”

Following the week of shared experiences and collaboration, Nair said the closeness of the team strengthens the performance as well. 

“It’s really important to get to know your team so you’re comfortable and have a lot of chemistry on stage,” Nair said. “The relationships were deepened throughout boot camp. It’s only been a couple days, but I can definitely say stronger bonds have been established throughout the whole team.”