Cultures clash at CFA
ISA’s 19th-annual Muqabla brings competition from around the country
Published: Thursday, October 25, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
A tradition that lives almost two decades is a force to be reckoned with, especially in the fickle minds of college students. But it’s the camaraderie that comes along with the competition that makes the experience worthwhile.
This Saturday, the Indian Student Association (ISA) will host its 19th annual Muqabla intercollegiate dance competition, which will feature 12 teams hailing from as far as Houston, Texas, at the Center For the Arts Mainstage Theater.
According to senior biological sciences major and ISA President Mira Pandya, Muqabla has been a major reason for the growing popularity of Indian culture in the United States, especially in the Northeast. Eight of the 12 teams performing will travel from Binghamton, Albany, Geneseo and Rochester, N.Y. – the other four teams come from Massachusetts, Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania – proving how much of a phenomenon Indian dance and culture has become.
Each year, the competition introduces a new theme to the contenders. This year, ISA will pull inspiration from a popular aspect in Bollywood film: a love-stricken paradise.
“We want to see how these teams use love in their performances and [see] how creative they get,” Pandya said. “Whether [it be with] their props, choreography or songs – that’s how they’ll be judged.”
Two UB dance groups will perform this weekend but not with each other. UB Bhangra, a dance group founded at UB in 2003, will showcase solely the Bhangra genre of dance and music. The Punjabi-influenced music incorporates loud drums and lyrical improvisation from its dancers and is common music in the Middle East.
UB Zeal, a South Asian fusion dance team at UB, will be the other on-campus contender. The members have high expectations for their performance. UB Zeal was founded in 2009 and will return to Muqabla with a total of 14 members, and six are veterans of the annual competition at the CFA.
Unlike UB Bhangra, UB Zeal includes multiple genres of music into its choreography. According to UB Zeal secretary and sophomore biological sciences major Vrinda Tarneja, the dance group’s musical selection includes not only Bollywood, punkra and other Indian-based music but also Latin, burlesque, contemporary, hip-hop and jazz music as well.
With Indian and Bollywood culture expanding across the country, it’s not uncommon for teams to travel as far as they are for these types of competitions. However, according to junior psychology major and UB Zeal co-captain Henna Khanijou, the teams at Muqabla have yet to meet and socialize with each other until now.
“Until you’re part of the circuit, you never realize how many teams exist,” Khanijou said. “Almost every college has a dance team … [and this is] the first year we’re actually getting to mingle.”
The competition will be limited to the stage, however. UB Zeal began practicing for Muqabla when the school year began. With the show quickly approaching, the group of 14 has built a bond the members believe will live long past their time at UB.
“[Our] passion for dance and the social part [is fun but], these are my sisters,” Tarneja said. “This is our sisterhood.”
Tickets for Muqabla are available at the CFA box office. Presale tickets will cost $8 and tickets will be $10 at the door.