Photos by Yinghug Sun
The energetic music pounding through the audience, the vibrant costumes that flow in time with the choreography, and the brightly colored sticks keeping the beat all swirl together into one dance: Raas. The traditional Indian dance has grown beyond just a religious dance into a fusion of cultures, expressing creativity.
University of Miami members of the Indian Students Association joined together for the sixth year to put on Miami Mayhem, a cultural event exposing South Floridians to the exotic traditions of India.
“This is the level of a professional show, but it’s just students who do this in their spare time, so that’s incredible to see how much work goes into this and all of people’s efforts, and then to see the show is amazing,” senior Shravan Chintalapani said. “It’s probably one of the biggest displays of Indian cultures here available to the University of Miami.”
Despite the dazzling displays, Miami Mayhem is still a competition, and has seen a growth in the number of teams applying for one of the coveted eight spots.
Flying in from places as varied as Maryland, New Jersey, Washington D.C. and Gainesville, Fla., the teams will be battling for more than $3,000 in cash prizes.
UM will be represented by three teams, “Hurricane Bhangra,” “Hurricane SwaggeRaas,” and the first south Asian acapella group in South Florida, “U Miami Tufaan.”
“These are teams that practice 10 to 15 hours a week all year,” Chintalapani said. “This is almost the last competition of the season, so it’s one of the biggest ones. The quality of competition here is astounding. It’s a great show, a lot of fun, and you get to see the best of Indian culture.”
Aside from all the eye-catching events, everyone involved has a greater reason for competing.
“Most important, we are a charity dance competition, and all our profits go to Sunhil’s Home to help orphans in need in India,” junior Naiomi Gunaratne said. “Sunhil was an orphan who became successful and moved to the U.S. and decided it was important to give back.”
For the past five years, the show has been sold out and the teams are hoping to do it again and donate $2,000 to Sunhil’s Home, according to Chintalapani.
“This is some of the best dancing you’ll be able to see here in Miami that’s put on completely by UM students, and it’s a lot of fun,” Chintalapani said. “There’s a very small Indian community here at UM, and we try to compensate for the small size by throwing huge events.”
Miami Mayhem will sell tickets in the breezeway from 11 a.m. to noon until March 1. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. on March 2, and the show begins at 6 p.m.
Tickets are $15 to $20, but UM students receive discounted tickets for $10. Shuttle transportation will be provided to students from campus to the Julius Littman Performing Arts Center located at 17011 NE 19th Ave., North Miami Beach. For more information, call 630-453-9383 or visit miami-mayhem.com.