The South Asian Society hosted Yale’s first-ever South Asian intercollegiate dance and a cappella showcase Saturday, featuring groups from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, MIT, Princeton and Columbia.
Around 1,000 people attended Bulldog Dhamaal, which was held in Woolsey Hall on Saturday night and translates roughly to “ruckus” or “enjoyment.” Students performed a variety of distinctively South Asian dances, including Bhangra and Bollywood. The performances were not limited to dance, as several of Yale’s a cappella groups also participated in the show. Akarsh Sharma ’17, president of the Yale South Asian Society, said the event was part of a new initiative by the organization to increase collaboration among partner groups on campus, as well as across other campuses.
“Even though we have various South Asian performance and cultural groups on campus, this hadn’t ever been done,” Sharma said. “But we now hope it becomes a tradition in the years to come.”
The showcase has been in the works since the end of last school year, Sharma said, and the South Asian Society started reaching out to groups last semester and settled the logistics once members returned from winter break. To put on the show, the group worked with the Woolsey Hall administration and received funding from the Undergraduate Organizations Committee and the South Asian Studies Council, Sharma said.
Pooja Salhotra ’16, former president of the South Asian Society and a former city editor for the News, said she also hopes that the event will become a yearly tradition. She added that incorporating acts from other schools established Yale as a place where there is a lot of appreciation for South Asian culture. Salhotra, one of the co-captains of Yale Rangeela, also participated in the show.
The South Asian Society already hosts one annual event, Roshni, which is held in November and presents similar cultural aspects, though the performances have historically been limited to just Yale groups.
“[Bulldog Dhamaal] is something that has been talked about for a long time, but has never actually happened because it takes so much work to organize,” Salhotra said.
Sharma said the SAS is making an effort this year to narrow down the number of events his organization holds, instead focusing on hosting bigger functions which will reach more people and have a greater impact.
Some of Yale’s South Asian dance teams participate in regular competitions against groups from other schools. But Nishwant Swami ’17, co-captain of Yale Jashan Bhangra, said the less competitive atmosphere of Bulldog Dhamaal made it more enjoyable, as performers did not have to worry about being ranked by judges.
“It was just a really great group of teams and everybody performed at a really high level, which is nice to see,” Swami said.
Swami added that he enjoyed being able to meet the other participants after the performances. In addition to the showcase, the South Asian Society also hosted an after-party, where students could socialize with members of other participating teams.
Salhotra said it was useful to watch a variety of other groups, as Bhangra and other dance teams are always looking for new moves to incorporate into their routines.
“It’s been a long time coming in planning this show, but all in all we thought it turned out very successfully,” Sharma said.
Bhangra is a type of traditional dance originating in the Punjab region of India.