Group hosts intercollegiate Indian dance competition

Eight teams from several different out-of-state universities will battle it out in Miami using their hands and feet – and a pair of embroidered sticks.

The Indian Students Association will be hosting Miami Mayhem, the University of Miami’s first intercollegiate Indian dance competition, at the Jules Littman Performing Arts Center in North Miami Beach this Saturday.

The competing teams will be performing Raas, a traditional Indian folk dance that comes from the western state of Gujarat and involves the use of two decorated sticks called dhandiyas. Dressed in colorful Indian garb, the dancers move their feet and arms to the beat of heavy, up-tempo drums.

The dance consists of “highly complex choreography as well as intricate formations,” co-chair Amar Mandalia said.

The 17-member ISA committee has been planning the event since last April. The idea came about after the Hurricane Raas team was not one of the chosen universities to compete. Mandalia and others then decided to host their own competition.

There were 18 teams that applied to compete and the committee watched the videos submitted by each one. They judged each based on the strength of the team’s lineup and the appeal they would have to the audience. The committee narrowed it down to eight teams, who will compete for more than $3,500 in cash and prizes.

Meera Patel, the captain of the Raas team hailing from Michigan State, said they are participating because they want to experience Miami’s warm weather and get their school team’s name out.

“Kids aren’t even aware there is a dance form Raas,” Patel said. She said she felt that people should come to the competition because it promotes cultural awareness.

At Miami Mayhem, each team’s performance is based on a theme. Some of them include Harry Potter, the movie 300, Saved by the Bell and Guitar Hero.

Mandalia said that there are currently 33 college Raas teams in the country, and Indian dance competitions are gaining popularity on campuses.

“We’re showcasing how big the actual scene is,” she said.

Farah Dosani may be contacted at

To Know: Tickets range from $15 – 25 and are being sold in the UC breezeway from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Friday. Transportation to the event will be provided.

The teams participating come from Drexel University, Duke University, University of Maryland, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Penn State University, University of California-Berkley and University of Florida. The program also includes exhibition acts by Pine Crest Bhangra and KAOS.