By Kelly Knight
The sixth annual Bhangra Beat shook the Great Hall on Saturday night when five college dance teams took the stage.
“I know how we can become millionaires. We can bottle up their energy, into liquid energy, and sell it on eBay,” said senior Yuna Lee, one of the event’s hosts, to the crowd.
Dancers engaged the audience with fast paced movements encompassing the South Asian tradition of the celebration of harvest.The competition celebrated a unique combination of old and new, exemplified by several mash-ups of modern hip-hop music juxtaposed with the traditional Bhangra music.
The competing teams included Virginia Tech, William & Mary, and James Madison University.Eagle Bhangra opened the event and the University of Maryland’s fusion team, Dhoom,performed while the judges calculated their final scores.
Virginia Tech’s team was declared the winner, but all three of the competing teams received $100 from an anonymous donor.
The purpose of this event, as well as all others sponsored by the International Living Center (ILC), is to spread diversity and international awareness on campus.
The ILC is housed in Framar Hall and is one of the CONCEPTual Living Communities on campus.
In 2010 Bhangra Beat was voted best Hall Council event.
This year was the first time the ILC charged for admission and all of the 350 seats in the Great Hall filled up well before the event began at 8 p.m.
“Because of the success of attendance at last year’s Bhangra Beat we wondered if students would be willing to still come if we put a price on the event. The answer is yes,” Lee explained.
The money raised will go back into the Framar Hall account to be used towards future programs.
Although there are only 350 available seats in the Great Hall, over 400 people were in attendance, according to Lee.
“I’m sorry to those who are standing. There’s a reason we hold it in the Great Hall: I’m pretty sure they’d break Dodd Auditorium’s stage,” she told the crowd.
This has not always been the case for Bhangra Beat, which has come far from a small event six years ago.
“At our first Bhangra Beat, we had a belly dancer. It was so lame,” said Maarij Baig, another oneof the evening’s hosts.
The hosts also stressed the educational purpose of the event and in between performances students from participating schools explained the traditional clothing worn for the performances, which are colorful and brilliant.
During a break from the action, sophomore Katherine Giessel spoke of the ILC’s “Save Framar” movement in response to the UMW Master Plan, which proposes to demolish the building the ILC calls home.
“Framar is a house. People walk into Framar and feel at home. The international students know they are always welcome here,” said Lee.
Bhangra Beat and Framar exemplify diversity.
“Bhangra Beat has become a staple at UMW. If they knock down Framar, events like this will suffer. The reason we are so successful is because of the family-type bond we all share. I think of these people as my second family. We all want Framar to stick around forever,” Giessel explained.
Following the event, the floor was opened for everyone in attendance to learn a few dance moves and ask the performers questions.