Legends: Bollywood Fusion Dance Championship Brings the Heat
By Sarah Kamal
When most people hear “Bollywood Dance Championship,” one of the first things that might come to mind would be groups dancing to traditional Bollywood songs while wearing authentic apparel. At least that is what I thought before going to the competition. The reality of Bollywood dance teams could not be more different.
The Legends Bollywood Fusion Dance Championship was held at the Harris Theater in Millennium Park which is directly behind the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. The theater seats a little over 1,500 people and all the seats I could see were completely filled. Although I was not surprised at the amount of people who showed up, I was still stunned by the enthusiasm the audience showed even before the show had started. Many students from participating colleges came to show their support, often screaming chants to rile up their fellow students. There were also many parents in the audience, obviously extremely proud of their children and the hard work they were about to present.
The amount of time and work these colleges put into their routines was astonishing, especially because it is something participants work on in their free time. Each dance has a certain theme which is explained in the form of a story throughout the dance. It starts with a 2 minute video that the students had pre-recorded that introduces their story. Usually, the students themselves act and give the basis of what the dance will be about. While this video is playing, the team sets up their props and prepares the stage. The themes for the dances varied from the Disney villain Maleficent to the murder mystery game “Clue” to a woman suffering with dementia.
The routines were an impressive 5 minutes or longer and incorporated many different styles of choreography. Each dance consisted of at least some traditional Bollywood dance moves and songs, but the majority of the performances had heavy Western influences, using popular hip hop and rap songs and modern dance moves. Almost every team did a costume change somewhere in the routine and did intricate stunts. More importantly, however, you could feel the energy that the groups gave off and that they truly enjoyed performing. The crowd was also reciprocating the energy, cheering loudly throughout the entirety of the performances.
The competition took almost three hours since there were ten teams. At the end of the night, the competition’s hosts announced winners. This year, SLU Shakti won, the team that had the “Clue” murder mystery game theme. Their costumes were elaborate and their choreography was impressive, so it was not surprising to see that they had won. There will be another Legends Dance Competition around the same time next year, so make sure to keep an eye out for it!