UT Bollywood fusion dance teams share experiences at national competition

Meera Hatangadi, General Life&Arts Reporter

When Bollywood fusion dance team Texas Talaash walked on stage at Knight Theater in Charlotte, North Carolina, applause echoed throughout the room. The team took to the stage right after a performance from fellow Longhorn team UT Saaya, making UT the only university represented by two groups in the contest.

As their music started, the crowd, having seen their set throughout the competition season, began singing along. In that moment, Talaash co-captain Anubhav Kamath said he fully comprehended that his team was competing at the National Legends Competition.

“We’re used to having a lazy facial (expression for the first segment) because that’s what goes along with the song, but as soon as the crowd started singing, our entire team dropped all facials, and we all started smiling on stage because we just couldn’t hold in our happiness,” finance senior Kamath said. “That’s one of those moments where everything hit, that we’re really here (at Legends).”

This year, UT teams Texas Talaash and UT Saaya made up two of nine teams selected from all around the country and traveled to Charlotte this past weekend to compete at Legends National Competition. UT Saaya placed second and won the stand-out segment award, while Texas Talaash came in seventh.

Public relations senior and UT Saaya co-captain Dhivya Bala said attending the Legends weekend and placing second in the nation served as proof of her teammates’ substantial efforts, as well as the impact they created.

“We’re (competing) for us, and yes, we love to dance, but it’s really hard to remember that when all you do is practice and your body’s exhausted,” Bala said. “But those little moments of (hearing), ‘Hey, I’m rooting for you. I’m watching you. I see the hard work that you’re putting in,’ — it means the world, and it totally changes the experience you have.”

With some seniors graduating and members taking a break from the team to focus on other activities, engineering freshman Sarrah Ghadiali said she enjoyed the chance to compete as part of UT Saaya with this year’s unique cohort.

“This team is different than it is ever going to be in the future,” Ghadiali said. “This is our last time competing together (with the same group of people), so it’s kind of bittersweet.”

This past season brimmed with intensity, however it was through consistent hard work that UT Saaya was able to attend Legends and place nationally, Bala said.

“The highs were so high and the lows were also so low. (This competition season) tested me as a person, as a captain, as a leader and as a dancer, but it was truly the most fulfilling experience that I’ve ever had in my life,” Bala said. “I love this team with all my heart and soul. I can’t imagine what my life would have been like without them.”

Abhi Murmu, co-captain of Texas Talaash said despite not placing in the top three, Texas Talaash finished off the weekend with pride for what they put out onstage and a renewed motivation to continually improve.

“One thing we always tried to say in practice is ‘We’re not winning this for the trophy, we’re not winning this for clout. We’re doing this for hours of practice, stress, all the sacrifices and the people next to you,’” said Murmu, an actuarial mathematics senior. “When it comes to Legends, it’s not necessarily about winning the trophy. It’s just about (putting) your heart out on stage.”