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Thursday, June 17, 2021

Activities & Organizations

Bollywood dance competition takes a new form amid pandemic


Houston Jannat performing before COVID-19 at a Bollywood dance competition. | Courtesy of Houston Jannat

Houston Jannat performing before COVID-19 at a Bollywood dance competition. | Courtesy of Houston Jannat

The UH Bollywood dance team, Houston Jannat, has had a peculiar semester in regards to coronavirus changes to competitions.

Houston Jannat performs Bollywood dance within two national inter-collegiate circuits called Bollywood America and Legends. Every year the team comes up with a theme to center their performance around and builds out an intricate set with backdrops, props and costumes. 

The competitions they normally would attend would ideally be accompanied by mixers and after parties, where members of Jannat could meet and mingle with other teams.

“The sad part is that we don’t get the whole competition experience, which was like half the fun,” said Jannat’s manager, political science junior Sonya Andrews.

In 2020, competitions are taking a new form. All production has been scrapped and they solely focus on dance.

“The difference, which I feel like a good thing, is that you’re solely being judged on dance,” Andrews said. “Which is nice since (the competition’s judges) care more about your choreography rather than the production value of what you’re putting on stage.” 

What’s on stage isn’t the only thing that has changed. The practices look a little different than usual.

Previously, Jannat would practice three to four times a week for three hours at a time, with 12 hour long boot camps during winter break.

“Some of the new guidelines have us wearing masks, or merging one song after the other after recording our video, when usually we would just record all our audition videos in one take,” said Jannat’s co-captain, public health sophomore Shalini Patel. “Actual competitions though, which will be all second semester, we have to take our videos in one take.” 

Houston Jannat has learned to adapt. Like many other student organizations, Jannat hosts online socials.

“We’ve had two socials, one with introductions and one for just fun, and we’ll probably have another,” said Jannat co-captain, biology junior Janki Prajapati. “But we’re trying our best, and I can only hope the team can be as close as our previous years teams have.”

With no in-person practices, the team has found learning to bond a little difficult as well. Ideally, they would spend the time between intense practices and rigorous dance drills bonding and forming inside jokes to last them all year. 

“It’s got its pros and cons,” Andrews said. “While we can’t be practicing together like we always do, the judges will finally be focusing just on the dance aspect of our performance and we’re hoping that works to benefit us.”

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