An Indian affair

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The Spectrum

The Center for the Arts will resound with the beats of Indian music next week at Muqabla 2010.

The Indian Student Association (ISA) is hosting its 16th annual dance competition on Nov. 13, providing a culturally-based contest for students all around the Northeast. Having originated at UB, Muqabla – a Hindi word that literally means "challenge" – is an intercollegiate dance competition that focuses on the classical and contemporary dance Indian dance forms.

According to Lindsy Varghese, a senior accounting major and ISA President, Muqabla is the club's biggest, most anticipated event of the academic year.

"This is what the ISA at UB is known for," Varghese said. "This is an event that alumni of the ISA come back to UB for. It is an excellent means of communication between UB alumni and incoming freshmen."

Muqabla has grown and developed greatly in the last few years and has even become well known across the border in Canada.

"Teams vary in size from as little as 10 to as many as 30 dancers to give us a grand total of about 200 dancers. Last year we had about 300 spectators and expect many more this year as we have more teams than ever before and additional support from the community and volunteers," Varghese said. "Our event has grown immensely over the past few years and we expect nothing less for this year."

There are a total of 12 teams performing at Muqabla. There will be teams from Pittsburgh, Cornell and Syracuse, to name a few. This year, Muqabla is benefiting the Akanksha Foundation.

"The Akanksha Foundation is a non-profit organization [that hopes to one day] equip all students with education, skills and the characteristics they need to lead empowered lives," Varghese said. "Twenty-five percent of our ticket sales will be donated."

Such an event attracts many returning fans who have high expectations, and the ISA is determined to please the crowd.

"I think it's going to be better [this year]," said Noorul Gazi, a sophomore undecided major. "They held auditions [to determine which group will represent UB], so I think it will be more competitive [and] more intense."

This year, returning viewers can expect a change in the competition's theme.

"This competition will consist of an overall theme for all dance groups, no matter what dance style," Varghese said.

The theme for this year is "East Meets West." Each dance team will be required to choreograph an Indian dance to 75 percent Indian music and 25 percent American music.

"[The theme] is a challenge this year," said Mansi Shah, a senior pyschology major and co-founder of UB Zeal. "It's somewhat vague, but our choreography is coming along well."

At Muqabla, there will also be an exhibition performance by UB's Organization of Arab Students (OAS).

"OAS has performed in ISA's Muqabla a few times and every year we do it, we love it," said OAS President Aurora Abousaid.

According to Abousaid, the OAS hopes to promote the Arab culture, especially to non-Arabs, through their traditional Arabic "dabkeh" dancing.

"It's very energetic and gets everyone hyped up," Abousaid said. "[Our dancers] love to show others what we can do."

Given the magnitude of the event, careful planning had to go in to the preparations well in advance.

"Our E-board worked hard to get all the competitive teams we have this year. [Details about the event were] spread by word of mouth, and were forwarded by dance fanatics from previous years," Varghese said. "[The registration packets] went out in early June, giving teams… the ability to plan ahead."

Teams weren't the only ones who planned ahead. Funding the event required a lot of hard work from the ISA's executive board. According to Varghese, the E-board put together fundraisers, requested donations, and got sponsorships to help fund the event.

Each team that places will receive a trophy and a cash prize.

"First place receives $1,500, second place receives $750, and third place receives $500," Varghese said. "It's been very hard, but we are doing our best to make this event as successful as possible with the funding and support of our ISA members."

Every year, the ISA selects a panel of experts to judge the dance performances.

Two of the judges this year are patrons of the arts. Anushree Shah, owner and founder of Bollywood Dance Mania, and Parvatha Chidambaram, the founder of the Bharata School of Indian Dance & Music in Rochester, will be on the panel of judges.

Tickets are currently selling for $8 at the CFA ticket office as well as on Ticketmaster.com

E-mail: features@ubspectrum.com